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Camera: Shiv Kumar Maurya, Video Editor: Prajjwal Kumar Video Input: Smitha TK, Raj Singh
"We kids don't care about religion, so we don't even talk about it. It is only the elders who are obsessed with it."
That's the simple philosophy of 13-year-old Vinita from Chennai. Just like her, many more children spoke to us about the multiple religions followed in India. But what we found common in their answers was how everyone is the same and religion is just a label. Peaceful India is all they want.
In a country like India where religion is a crucial part of our culture, we have over time witnessed animosity between religions. And now when we talk about 'religion,' it is usually accompanied by words like hatred, riots, and communal violence. The religion that taught us to be kind to others is now being used to ignite violence.
To find out how collective communal hate in the name of religion is affecting the kids, The Quint spoke to young Indian minds under the age of 17.
Belonging from different religions and diverse socio-economic background, the children came up with distinct answers when we asked what religion means to them and whether it is important or not. Most of them pictured Lord Ram, festivals, Sikh and God when they hear the word 'religion.' A few also spoke about the difference and rift between the Hindus and the Muslims. And most kids said religion is not important as it leads to fight. Some also said that religion is important to restore faith in God.
"Religion is not important because people fight among themselves due to religion. And stop talking to each other. I have seen it in Trilokpuri. The fight took place between the Hindus and the Muslims."Rohit, 13, Delhi
The consumption of news in the form of newspapers, news channels or even a WhatsApp forward, can many a time lead to violence highlighting any specific community or religion. But the children's thoughts on how different religions should be welcomed in this country and none of them should be treated differently or subjected to threats, are compelling yet efficient in nation building. Such interaction with these young souls can make anyone believe that they are going to initiate the change we need as a nation.
"Saying that only Hindus can attend their festivals and other communities aren't allowed is discrimination based on religion."Navya, 17, Chennai
We spoke to around 30 kids from Delhi, Noida, Chennai, and Lucknow. We further asked these kids whether religion comes first or the nation. Almost all of them proudly claimed to be Indian first and associating with their religion later.
"I am very proud to be called an Indian because our history has so many legends who have fought for our freedom."Navya, 17, Chennai
While asking how important religious tolerance is, the passionate young minds spoke about religious harmony. They were also aware about the discrimination faced by people from other religions. Most young minds believed that there should be religious freedom and everyone should appreciate the cultural beliefs, practices, and values of religion different from their own.
"The government is responsible for the fight. They are allergic to the loudspeakers. They say loudspeakers are used by Muslims. We Hindus also use loudspeakers. Muslims should also be allowed to use. There should not be any issue."Ujjwal, 11, Lucknow
"If we divide people based on religions, then everyone will be restricted. We will lose our individuality."Vinita, 16, Chennai
From telling the tales of friends who follow different religions to taking a stand on why only one religion should not be followed in the country, these kids are restoring our faith in humanity.
"I don't become friends with anyone based on their religion."Varun, 10, Chennai
"Like there is 'Ali' in Bajrangbali, Muslims too have Ali. Everyone is the same."Ujjwal, 11, Lucknow
Witnessing religious conflicts and discrimination in real life has changed the way these kids perceive the term 'religion.'
Watch the full video to affirm these children's fresh take on secular India.
With India completing 75 years of Independence, The Quint is celebrating the soul of the country – its secularism. We are bringing stories of unity, love, and music from across India in our month-long campaign, SeculaRhythm.
What does a Secular India mean to you?
Send your stories, ideas, poems, and art at firstname.lastname@example.org, and celebrate India's SecluaRhythm with The Quint.