When I was in a temple one day many years ago, I happened to hear a religious discourse going on in the background. The theme of this discourse was on Lord Hanuman and his pious posture of having his hands clasped together in front of his chest, as if saying Namasthe which is a form of either welcome or farewell. The discourse went on to say that Lord Hanuman is also called as the Lord of Vayu (Air). Wiki answers why. Now, the reason for this posture – as given in this discourse – was pretty interesting and amusing. Note that none of the below explanation is mine.
‘Sath’ (Pronounced as ‘Fath’ in ‘Fathima’) in Kannada means ‘Vayu’. ‘Hogbidthu’ or ‘Hoithu’ in Kannada means ‘Gone’. So, ‘Sath-hoithu’ or respectfully ‘Sath-hogbitru’ means someone breathed his last and, literally, that someone’s breath has gone. It is this last breath that goes from the body that is respected by Lord Hanuman. So Namasthe used here is in the farewell form. Lord Hanuman is also supposed to graciously offer this last breath to the Almighty as a form of respecting the departed.
As and when population increased and the rate of deaths proportionately increased, Lord Hanuman was over dumped with this work of bidding Namasthe farewell and hence he got himself the posture of having his hands constantly clasped in front of his chest in the form of paying respect to the ever constant stream of the departed. Yes, pretty amusing.
Now, the correlation. From here on, its my thoughts! Weird thoughts, again!
Honking during driving, I am sure, started – and in most countries, still remains – to correct nearby drivers’ irresponsibility. If and when a driver near you makes a mistake, you honk to create a wakefulness and consciousness to that driver so that the he can correct his irresponsibility before a fatality.
Now, in India, blame it on population, over the period of last few decades, so many learnt to drive that suddenly there are so many drivers in and around you, and so many of them are making mistakes constantly, that it has become inbred in the newborn Indian drivers that honking is a must-do activity, very much hand-in-hand with accelerating, irrespective of anyone actually being around you. And even when the driver in the vehicle beside your vehicle is driving appropriately, or a person is walking peacefully on the pavement, there is this deep-seated fear and uncertainty – or is it certainty! - that he is going to do some rash thing that it is better to honk just to be safe and let the other person know you are there! Even when there is no one around, it is just safe to honk so that no one jumps suddenly onto the road! Such has become the plight. Sigh.
So, just like how Lord Hanuman’s posture has been frozen to one of constant Namasthe, so is an Indian driver’s mentality frozen to honking as soon as the ignition is turned on!