This Friday, a lot of atheists across India will get hugged. It has been declared ‘Hug an Atheist Day’ and freethinkers of the country plan to gather at various places to hug and get hugged. The idea according to their Facebook page, is to tell the world that atheists are like anyone else — people who ‘like cats, ice cream, football and card games’ but have been ‘either forced to stay closeted about their identity or treated like snobs when they aren’t.’
This is the first such event in India though first friday of June for the last four years has been celebrated in the US as ‘Hug an Atheist Day’ — a day to hug as many atheists, agnostics, or other non-religious people as one can.
“A lot of people still think atheists lack morals and have to be shunned or silenced. So we thought it would be a good idea to tell the world that we are humans like them and the only difference would be that we believe in science and not a supernatural being,” says Dolly Koshy, who is part of Nirmukta, an atheist group organising the event.
The Facebook event page gives details on the ‘hugging spots’ nation wide. “We would collectively decide on places, go there, hug, make friends and probably head out for dinner or home. This will be done by all groups on Friday evening,” Koshy says. She, along with a few friends, is organising the event at Jaaga in Bangalore.
‘Hug an Atheist Day’ began in 2009 as a parody of the various ‘Hug an X day’ groups that were springing up at that time, particularly ‘Hug a Jew Day’, says its founder, William Bermudez, in an interview with examiner.com.
Over FB, he asked people to find an atheist, agnostic, ignostic, non-theist, anti-theist, anti-religionist, apatheist, secular humanist, skeptic, misotheist, dystheist, structuralist, freethinker, naturalistic pantheist, absurdist, deist, therevada buddhist, zen buddhist, nihiilst, marxist, pastafarian, spagnostic, gropaga, existentialist, or anyone else who doubts the existence of a god. Run up to that nonbeliever, and give him/her a gigantic hug!
In India, it was Lalit Mohan Chawla, an engineering graduate in Delhi, who first thought of joining in the event. “This is a day to make people aware and take away the stigma attached to being an atheist.” he said.