"Ganesha guards Big Brother's Shilpa"
Big Brother, aptly named 'Bigot Brother' by one newspaper, has shown to the world the grotesque depths to which Britain's culture-free class, as deified by Jade Goody and her partners in bullying, has descended. And what a humbling contrast we have before us in the figure of Shilpa Shetty. Underpinning her graciousness in the face of attack is her unshakeable Hindu faith. She has taken two deities into the Big Brother house with her, of which at least one is Ganesha, the elephant god. Ganesh is the Lord of success and destroyer of evils and obstacles. And how well he is working for Shilpa now, as Jade destroys her own reputation for ever - we hope - in showing to the world her shameless envy and hatred for one that even someone of her limited intellect must recognise subconsciously as worlds better than herself. In the latest atrocities, Danielle Lloyd has told Shilpa to go home, and Jade has spent an entire evening accusing her of lying in a row over stock cubes. The BBC's Asian Network has been inundated with calls about the girls ganging up on Shilpa. What a window this opens to the world on our country today. I'll be voting for the first time ever in Big Brother this week, to get Jade off. I urge anyone who cares for the reputation of this country to do the same.
Viewers including myself were stunned by the sight of Shilpa weeping as she said this week: "Never have I been so mortified." This was shortly after her bullying assailants had refused to eat the chicken she cooked and made remarks related to Indian food about why so many people in India are thin. Seeing her crying, they accused her then of being false. The comments against her, some racist and some merely indicating how utterly common and absolutely thick Jade and her cohort bullies are, have been reported in The Times and elsewhere. Incredibly, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown have both been dragged into the row and 20,000 viewers have complained to Ofcom. I'll be number 20,001. India's High Commission is among the organisations that have pledged to look into the matter.
Shilpa made regular pilgrimmages on foot in Mumbai to pray at a Ganesh shrine in the run-up to Big Brother. She has 140 idols of Lord Ganesha at her home and recently said: "My family is a firm believer of Lord Ganesh." Anil Bhanot, of the Hindu Council UK, told me: "For a Hindu, faith and race are interlinked. They are two sides of the same coin. She is cool, not necessarily because of her faith. She is well brought up. She comes from a good family. These jibes against her, racist jibes or whatever they are, are being made because she is a bit different. I think they have made her a little bit insecure in herself, so she is now allowing herself to do things like take the Ganesh deity out to show them. There is a lot of insecurity in the environment created for her. Hinduism is not eye for an eye. It is more like turning the other cheek. From the Hindu side of things, she has behaved admirably. She has tried to placate, she has tried to talk to each person. She can only do so much."
Ganesh is the god of new beginnings. The son of Shiva the destroyer and Parvati the love goddess, he has 32 forms and 108 names. There are many stories in Hindu mythology about what he can do to those who upset him.
I have a theory about Ganesh. The Hindu belief system is essentially karmic. What you do in one life will haunt you or reward you in the next. We colonised India. Perhaps Shilpa could even be said to be a product of our public school system, at several removes. Shilpa epitomises the cultured, upper class ideal which our boarding schools were dedicated to turning out. We should be proud of her. And it serves us right, that our country's interaction with Asian culture is being defined now by the likes of Jade and Danielle. This, I would suspect, is Ganesha's ultimate karmic visitation, for the outrage we inflicted on his country and his people all those generations back. We have truly reaped our own reward in Jade and Danielle. Ganesh must be behind it. Besides, what else but divine intervention could explain the glorious synchronicity of Gordon Brown, who has never actually watched BB, being in India while all this is going on.