The first meet of the Delhi chapter of Indian Atheists was held on January 23rd, 2011.
The first Delhi Atheists meet was very successful and received an overwhelming response. Communication was done online using Facebook as the base of the group’s event planning. Information about the meet was sent to many international Atheist and rationalist organizations, such as the Richard Dawkins Foundation, Skepchick.org, etc. We also used twitter to pass on information about the meet to famous rationalists such as Simon Singh, and writers such as Taslima Nasreen and Javed Akhtar. These famous intellectuals re-tweeted the plan for the meet to their twitter followers! In fact, after the meet Javed Akhtar tweeted again showing interest in attending future meets!
At around 4 pm on the 23rd of January, 2011, at the amphitheatre in central park, a little godless part of India was created. People came from diverse backgrounds. There were astronomers, ex- bureaucrats, doctors, students, ministry officials, professors etc. We even had one gentleman who flew in all the way from Jammu to attend the meet! The enthusiasm of the group was wonderful! The discussions revolved around a number of important contemporary issues. Right from the introductory round some pretty diverse points of view were being presented, such as people’s journeys to atheism, their current stand and some very interesting anecdotes. A good part of discussion was centered on Indian mythology and how discrimination is bred. Also, some of the anecdotes were about how families reacted to people ‘coming out of the closet’. One of the participants explained about how he helped his family become atheists. It was truly inspiring. There was some discussion on how resources are wasted by religious organizations and how people run their business on superstition. We indulged in rich discourse and argued our hearts out!
The discussion closed by looking at the way forward. One concern was that atheists are very scattered and hence there is no cohesion. It was concluded that therefore involving media to spread the message is important. We decided to call upon famous atheists to spread the word and help us promote science and freethought. Also, regular meetings are important, and so we decided to meet bi-annually. The date of the next meet-up was proposed to coincide with Shaheed Bhagat Singh’s birthday, but since that day falls on a weekday, we shifted it to the nearest Sunday – March 27th, 2011. The theme of this meet will be Bhagat Singh, to honour one of the most famous atheists of India. Details of this upcoming meet will be announced over the next few days.
This report was written by Raghu Kalra, with additional input from Aayushi Awasthy. Raghu Kalra is the coordinator of the Delhi Atheists group, and one of the team coordinators of Nirmukta and Indian Atheists.