Home / Culture and Society / Cricket: The Unifying Religion of India

Cricket: The Unifying Religion of India

Please Share...Print this pageTweet about this on TwitterShare on Facebook0Share on Google+1Pin on Pinterest0Share on Tumblr0Share on StumbleUpon0Share on Reddit0Email this to someone

The ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 final was played between India and Sri Lanka at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai, India on April 2, 2011. With Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni hitting a towering six in the penultimate over India won the final by six wickets. The sweet victory came after 28 long years, giving India its second title. The colors of celebrations that started immediately had the hues of unity all over.

CelebrationsMillions of Indian cricket fans prepared for that big occasion-at homes, offices, playgrounds, streets, restaurants and cinema houses. A local holiday was declared for Mumbai. People congregated at all possible public places with big screens showing the live match and cheered the home team on at every moment. Nameless, faceless crowds identified by just one thread, one religion and one language called cricket.

The Indian Republic has 28 states and seven union territories with most of them uniquely differentiated by culture, ethnicity, language and religion. But when it comes to cricket and Team India, they all become one unified whole. Indian. television news channels were showing scenes of celebrations from all major cities and towns across the country and everywhere you seemed to see the same charged people, the same colors and the same language.

The final had many twists and turnarounds. Sri Lankan batsmen were under a lot of pressure for most part of their innings. The Indians cheered Team India for exceptional fielding and bowling. When Sri Lanka ran amuck in the last five overs reaching a challenging total—almost match-winning for Sri Lankan bowling standards—the Indians were a little disheartened, but never lost hope in their team and religion.

Chasing 275 for victory, India lost the dazzling opener, as Sehwag in just the second ball of the innings and then Sachin Tendulkar—the living legend looking for his team’s win and his century of international centuries—fell too a little later. There was pin drop silence in the stadium, in the streets, in the playgrounds and across homes.

What followed was more astounding. You could hear loud cheers every time Team India scored a run from then on. Every boundary hit was welcomed with gusty cheers and loud bursts of firecrackers. This was more like a momentum build-up of a suspense movie set to explode at the crescendo climax.

The Indian captain engineered that climax by hitting the victorious six. Battle cries, jumping, shouting, singing, dancing, fireworks and even bike or car racing followed—everywhere. If you sat at home watching alone, you ran out crying hoarse and could see perfect strangers making victory signs to you or even embracing you. You reciprocated with a spirit and gusto you hardly recognized existed in you!

Convoys of bikes raced in the streets, blazing their headlights and honking continuously in unison. For a change, pedestrians were not irritated or terrified, but waved at them! Film stars came out of their homes and drove around the streets greeting everyone and obliging the television reporters.

The magic of cricket was just incredible. So spontaneous, so vibrant, so full of energy and so all-embracing. The game of cricket that has been played at every street or lane of India apart from the fields, gardens, parks and genuine playgrounds unifies like nothing else and makes all proud of being Indians.

Right, cricket is the new emerging religion of India. The biggest democracy of the world, divided on ethnic, cultural, linguistic, political and parochial lines, really needs this supportive and tolerant religion to take the nation forward with a strong unique and one identity.

Powered by

About Chinmay Chakravarty

I am an ordinary and humble human being. Have been a writer-journalist all my life. Writing for profession, for the pleasure of it... and it's a passion! Working in the media sector of Government of India.
  • STM

    Congrats. As an Aussie, I’m shattered. Lost the Ashes, then the World Cup.

    As a cricket lover, I’m stoked (even by the Test cricket from the Poms this year). The Indian team is awesome at the moment. They’ve always been up there with the best batsmen and fielders in the world, but their bowling is now superb too.

    The limited overs format has benefited hugely from the Indian Premier League, which might be a reason.

    Or, maybe, that every Indian boy is born with a cricket bat in his hands.

    Good on you guys.

  • I wonder, what will Indian do instead cricket, if to imagine that one day it would be eliminated? Which activity will be the most popular in this country? BaseBall? Bodybuilding?

  • Well, with 1.2 billion support Cricket can never be eliminated! And then, there are more sports–hockey, football, badminton, tennis, chess,athletics including boxing and some local varieties like Kabbadi and all. Cricket is most popular due to the beauty of the game and India’s consistent success. Thanks and why the doubt!

  • S.T..M

    Hmm, can’t see Indians ever not liking cricket. I’ve never met an Indian bloke who wasn’t fanatical about it.

    There’s your answer.

  • amanda wyles

    Great to see India win the world cup. Priceless the Aussies losing this and the ashes. hope they can find another skipper like ponting.