India’s rent-an-outrage industry has given birth to a whole new faith—complete with an omnipotent god, mythology, scriptures, fanatic believers, and, of course, a short fuse when it comes to fickle religious sentiments.
This new “religion”—Dinkamatham or Dinkoism—made its presence known in January this year at Kochi in the southern Indian state of Kerala. Believers, called Dinkoists, protested against a Malayalam film star, Dileep, for acting in a movie titled Professor Dinkan.
This was in keeping with the best traditions of hurt sentiments in India.
Over the last few years, the country has witnessed a pathological rise in the number of instances where followers of various faiths and members of communities have outraged over stray remarks, cartoons, books, movies or songs that even tangentially broach issues pertaining to them.
Dinkoists, on their part, were angry that the holy name of their beloved lord—Dinkan—was being used for a movie character who is a mere mortal. The film will be released in 2017.
Dinkan, according to their faith, is the saviour of the world, swooping in from nowhere to protect everyone, particularly children. Once abducted by aliens, who then gave him his superpowers, Lord Dinkan is just about anywhere and anytime the needy, well, need him!
He flies, he fights, he comforts. And if you had any doubts about his supremacy, beware: he wears his red underwear over his tight-fitting yellow costume that shows rippling biceps; not to forget the flowing red cape.
But if you are imagining a regular comic book hero with super-human abilities, perish the thought. Dinkan is no flying spaghetti monster either. He is far beyond man, superman, or super-pasta.
The all-powerful god of Dinkoism is a… supermouse! Dinkaluyeah!
Does this sound like a parody? That is because it is. This fledgling movement is said to be a product of rising manifest bigotry and tightening of regressive norms in Kerala. The whole idea, according to one observer who didn’t want to be named, is to hold up a mirror to established religions and expose their vacuousness.
But ask Dinkoists themselves about it, and all you get is pretend-zeal.
“Dinkoism has existed from time immemorial. It was the first religion. Some people, who lost their way, formed other religions. Everything that the modern world knows today is based on Dinkoism,” Prashant Appul, a freelance video editor based in Kochi, Kerala, told Quartz in mock earnestness.
Delving into Dinkoism’s profundity, 35-year-old Appul said the Big Bang Theory itself is actually based on his religion’s Big Laughter concept, according to which the universe came into being with Dinkan’s first guffaw. Similarly, they knew about black holes in space long before science could even imagine them. After all, Dinkan the mouse is adept at chewing holes, says Appul, an ardent Dinkoist since 2011.
A native of the imaginary Pankila forest, Dinkan was first heard about in the early 1980s when a children’s magazine, Balamangalam, gained popularity in Kerala. However, Appul says, “Dinkan in his true form is cosmic vibrations. Some people made it easy for themselves by imagining Dinkan as yellow-clad mouse. And that became popular.”
He draws a parallel: “Before Raja Ravi Varma began painting Hindu goddesses in sarees, nobody really imagined the goddesses in sarees. This is like that.”
Today, Balamangalam is one of Dinkoism’s “holiest” books. Another such text is the “Pankilasmrithi” or the Chronicles of Pankila, Dinkan’s native forest. This book even has Sanskrit shlokas such as:
Dinkan will protect the children!
Dinkan will protect the youth!
Dinkan will protect the elderly!
Dinkoism first emerged around 2007-08 on social media. This was a time when Malayalam (Kerala’s native tongue) bloggers were coming of their own and began commenting on and discussing social issues. The term Dinkoism was referred to as a joke back then to ridicule established religions. But soon people were identifying themselves as Dinkoists, sometimes jokingly, sometimes in mock seriousness.
Chants like “Oh my Dinkan, please protect me” came into regular use. As his following swelled, two groups on Facebook—The Freethinkers and The International Chalu Union—began giving Dinkan a lot of currency.
However, it was actor Dileep’s Professor Dinkan that finally pushed them out into public gaze and prompted them to openly proclaim their “faith.” They even formed a group called Mooshikasena (The rodent’s army) to troll the movie on social media. With such moves, Dinkoists are showing up the absurdness of such protests by adherents of other religions.
Open source religion
Since the January event, Dinkoists have begun meeting regularly to give form and structure to their new faith. The idea is to present their mock religion as a legitimate one and seek official recognition. The next logical step would be to claim minority status and right to run educational institutions just like other organised faiths. If they can, why not us—this seems to be the guiding spirit.
“Dinkoism is an open source religion. But when religions in India enjoy so many undeserving privileges, we also demand them for Dinkoism. And we plan to work towards that end,” said Sukhesh Vadavil. Owner of a digital media marketing firm in Kochi, 33-year-old Vadavil became a Dinkoist after he was fed-up of traditional religions’ power structures and brazen business orientation.
These, in fact, were some of the demands Dinkoists voiced at the “mega religious meet” in Kozhikode on Sunday (March 20). Around 450 attended this event. Dinkoism’s Facebook page has more than 6,250 “likes”. Besides, Dinkan’s followers are not restricted to just Kerala or India.
In this video, Dinkoist Amy Watson of Portland, Oregon, explains why her faith is the world’s greatest.
Observers, though, say that in a state like Kerala—often referred to as God’s Own Country—a movement such as Dinkoism has the potential to attract followers.
“This phenomenon is a result of the acute pressure brought in on the youth by extremist religious forces. The vacuum created by the decline of ideology is now sought to be filled by religious fundamentalism, be it Hindu, Christian or Islamic,” said Joseph Antony, senior journalist with the Malayalam daily Mathrubhumi’s online version.
Speaking to Scroll.in, Kozhikode district collector Prashant Nair said, “Dinkoism is a religion where you learn to take things lightly and become tolerant to things that you don’t appreciate otherwise… Dinkoists use humour to send the message. Humour is something that everybody appreciates. Therefore, it makes sense to promote this religion.”
Clearly, some of the claims and rituals of this parody religion have irritated the established ones.
For instance, at a Kochi meet in February, Dinkoists “demonstrated” their lord’s power to treat ailments, which did not go well with sects of Christianity that believe in faith healing.
Here a woman suffering from a “deadly disease”—she feels the heat when the air-conditioner is switched off—is shown getting “cured” following fervent prayers by a Dinkoist healer.
Of course, there are certified Dinkoist priests, too…
Similarly, a peculiar ritual of stoning jackfruits, which the Dinkoists perform, has annoyed sections of Muslims who claim that it mocks the all-important stoning of the devil that all pilgrims to Mecca must see through.
Lastly, Dinkoists believe the primeval sound of the universe is call “Embakkaar”—Dinkan’s belch. Now, that is naughtily close to the Hindus’ revered ”Omkar”.
But nothing is about to stop Dinkoists.
Their next target is Akshaya Tritiya, an auspicious day for Hindus to start new ventures. Broadening its meaning, Akshaya Tritiya has been extensively marketed in the past few years as a day when one can usher in good luck by just buying gold or gold ornaments.
Dinkoists claim the Hindus have hijacked their concept of Akshaya Jettiya—a day when they symbolically pass good luck to laymen in the form or red jettis (underwears).
If the Dinkoists’ plans fructify, this May 9 could see a minor battle between precious ornaments inside jewellery showrooms in Kerala and Dinkan’s red underwears, worn and sold, outside.
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