Funny MemesZodiac Memes Can’t Save Us From the Harmful Affect...

Zodiac Memes Can’t Save Us From the Harmful Affect of Astrology in India – The Swaddle


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You wouldn’t have to scour the web for too lengthy to return throughout memes about earth or wind indicators and the type of month they’re having, how they behave in numerous conditions, and the way they’d react to, say, a minor inconvenience or a serious disaster.

The place newspaper columns and magazines as soon as carried comparable ideas, tips, and recommendation, the phenomenon has now moved on-line and develop into a serious GenZ subculture. However in India, younger folks taking to it — whether or not paradoxically or not — replicates a generational sample that’s problematic at finest, harmful at worst.

The web’s “pop” astrology and memes are devoid of contextualization or nuance. Byte-sized with its personal nomenclature, guidelines, and interior circle jokes, it’s all over the place whether or not one believes in it or not. Certainly, it arguably has little or no to do with perception. The thought is to not take it too critically. However this makes it sound benign and rootless when it isn’t. Consequently, it dangers normalizing a rhetoric that many in India have been attempting exhausting to struggle.


“Astrology has created a lot chaos in my prolonged household, similar to getting 19 year-olds married to 33 year-olds,” says Aparna, 23. Her expertise is just not distinctive; many ladies reported feeling pressurized to get married at a sure age, to a sure individual, with none regard for his or her precise needs, as a result of an astrologer’s verdict. “They’ve been forcing marriage upon me and astrology is one thing they take a look at each single day,” says Aksheyaa, 24.

Right here is the place memes concerning the “compatibility” of varied indicators are likely to undermine the true life prices of taking astrology critically.

Leaving the elemental logic at play unchallenged, even passively mainstreaming it by humor, irony, or superficial curiosity, signifies that younger folks could also be much less more likely to consolidate efforts in the direction of difficult the extra regressive manifestations of astrology that have an effect on their friends.

There may be admittedly a distinction between non secular astrology offline, and the extra decontextualized, “secular” astrology from the memes on-line. The place the previous intersects with ritualism to affect future outcomes, the latter is extra within the realm of spirituality and understanding extra about folks’s personalities. However there’s a level the place the 2 meet.

Associated on The Swaddle:

Millennials and Meme Tradition Have Reclaimed Astrology

The cultural associations of astrology in India have deep roots in faith and caste, with its stranglehold over many households suffocating many younger folks. However there are some rising corners of the web the place these associations begin to creep into the astrology that appeals to younger folks on-line, the type the place its hippie, “love and peace” vibes really feel liberating within the context of accelerating violence and battle in society.

An influencer who goes by the username “Wandering Kamya” is a living proof how misleading this may be. Her feed is filled with mystical imagery, her outfits crying free spiritedness with a contact of non secular asceticism, her mannerisms, gestures, and phrases rigorously managed to appear and feel like they arrive from profound interior information that solely she has unlocked. Astrology is simply one of many many non secular issues she espouses, however there’s an undercurrent of reactionary romanticization of India’s “historical” and “misplaced” tradition — by which she means Hinduism. And thru the language of indigenity and decolonization, Kamya “reclaims” the non secular connotations related to astrology and asserts these roots very strongly.

That is on-line, however there are additionally famend lecturers who espouse comparable issues offline. The scholar Meera Nanda factors to this very phenomenon and calls it “reactionary modernism.”

In different phrases, the road that separates how astrology is mentioned on-line, and the way it’s practised offline, can and does blur. The query then turns into this: do folks maintain some type of social accountability for participating with astrology of any type?

In accordance with Mukta Dabholkar,  a rationalist and organizer of the Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmolan Samiti (MANS), the reply is sure — as a result of surrendering to beliefs that don’t have their foundation in tangible info might be harmful for a society.

She speaks to the rising prevalence of the concept “alternative” is the be-all and end-all of autonomy, with out questioning the that means or penalties of any of the alternatives we make. Certainly, a lot has been stated and written about how millennials and Gen Z discover consolation in astrology as a coping mechanism for coping with the realities of the world. Somewhat than accommodating trustworthy conversations about the best way to grapple with the stress between psychological well being and astrology, nevertheless, web discourse appears to be pervaded with a way of normalization by humor and self-aware, ironic distancing.

What Dabholkar says additionally resonates in a context a lot bigger than she lets on. Her father is Narendra Dabholkar, the famed anti-superstition activist who challenged many an astrologer in his day. His work led as much as one fateful day in 2013, when a gaggle of unknown assailants killed him for doing simply that. This additionally speaks to the massive dissonance between the issues we take as a right on-line and what occurs offline.


In explaining why “on-line” astrology is just not innocent, Dabholkar tells me how the present crop of millennials should not the primary of their type to have this type of indifferent, virtually ironic perception in astrology. In each technology, there have been folks with liberal mindsets, who held beliefs within the extra “polished” types of astrology — ones that don’t entail outright irrationality like black magic, human or animal sacrifice — however people who sit comfortably with their worldviews as way of life selections like selecting a job, a home, a associate, or a pastime, she explains. There’s a sure class element to what sort of astrology is deemed “acceptable,” and what type is regarded down upon as irrational and cheesy.

The affect of Western astrology, which the extra privileged of younger Indians entry and have interaction with, is arguably this technology’s model of refined, socially acceptable astrology, simply as in opposition to was to Hindu majority predecessors. It comes freed from the bags of faith and dogma, and there’s a sure polished, hippie aura round it that makes it interesting as a way of life alternative with out feeling the necessity to consider its social and political repercussions — there don’t look like any. This has arguably morphed into an web subculture of its personal, which makes its recognition one thing that we have now not but reckoned with on a broader scale, each on a private or a political degree.

Associated on The Swaddle:

Why Do Folks Nonetheless Consider In Astrology?

However Dabholkar advocates for not separating this perception from politics and society, no matter how private one would possibly suppose their beliefs are. What she says resonates in a digital context: there’s a motive why the seemingly apolitical, impartial type of astrology is getting used as a entrance for one thing extra sinister by the likes of Wandering Kamya. Astrology has the proper quantity of mystique and historic timelessness to be malleable to any type of framing — usually, it finally ends up serving as a car to glorify a regressive previous, expound on the futurism of the Vedas, and propagate different reactionary non secular concepts in a method that’s palatable to younger folks.

This has deep and pressing implications for politics.

“The crux of progressive pondering lies within the reality of questioning, and it additionally lies in accepting the info, even should you really feel uncomfortable accepting them. Being dispassionate about info is essential for progressive politics,” Dabholkar says. “ Calling spade a spade is essential.”


There may be extra to why it is likely to be price urgently re-examining our fixation with the seemingly decontextualized model of astrology we see on-line. “Astrology is an exploitative construction that earnings off of individuals’s paranoia and concern. It’s a very harmful superstition,” says Sanal Edamaruku, President of Indian Rationalist Affiliation and good friend of Narendra Dabholkar’s. Edamaruku at present resides in Finland as a result of threats to his life in India, a results of his work in difficult superstitions together with astrology.

For Dabholkar and Edamaruku, it seems, leaving room for ambiguity, doubt, and surrendering to purported forces exterior of oneself can consequently go away room for being passive residents in a nation in turmoil. They acknowledge that in a society in flux, individuals are certain to seek for solutions or a vocabulary to make sense of what’s taking place. However for 2 individuals who have had a lot stake within the recreation, they stand as examples for the way liberating it may be to remain rooted to info.

Whereas it will probably, and has soothed people throughout instances of societal transformation, Dabholkar warns that we have to be taking note of what it does even among the many area of interest group of younger folks on-line. It may be harmful on a private degree too, she says — since ascribing circumstances to one thing exterior, whether or not in jest or not, includes undermining the significance of individuals having company over their lives. The results are there for all to see, and Dabholkar’s and Edamaruku’s lives stand testomony to this.

With burgeoning state assist for astrology too, it could be remiss to not ask questions on who stands to realize from astrology’s rising acceptance as “cool”, humorous, and even “woke”, within the larger image. Its progressive veneer on-line arguably permits such developments to slide beneath the radar, however its potential in answering an period of existential unease can’t be denied.

Certainly, there are not any straightforward solutions. Dabholkar summarizes her strategy to the battle by quoting her father: “For eradicating blind religion, we have to meet folks with kindness slightly than anger, and deal with them with love as an alternative of sarcasm.” When all is claimed and executed, the spirit of dialogue and inquiry — widespread to most progressives — may serve to unite those that by some means discover themselves on reverse sides of the identical room.

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