Non-Hindus (the Muslims are the most vocal in this case) object to this song because of its phrasing which calls Mother India "our goddess" whom we "worship". Obviously this is a problem for any monotheistic faith, as we do not worship anyone but the Almighty God. And as long as this was just a 'national song', it was optional and not really a huge major problem.I was a little taken aback ... I'd grown up on Vande Mataram -- it started all AIR (All India Radio) broadcasts in the morning, was all over Doordarshan (the one official TV channel back then), and we sang it in school too. A Jesuit school. I know the words and melody by heart.
The thing is, what is the best translation of "vande"? Is it the same as "worship"? The latria that is due only to the One God? Most translations I've seen say "salute" or "bow." I mean if one can address the Most Blessed Mother in the much more colorful and exalted language of huperdoulia (as is her due!), some poetic excess for one's motherland is surely justifiable.
In the US, we don't quite use such colorful language, but we salute the flag, pledge our allegiance to the republic for which it stands, and ask God to bless our country.
I think a Muslim, with that much stricter Koranic sense of tahwid, the absolute Oneness of God, might have more problems with it. [Though whether it is at all helpful for subcontinental Muslims to start using the language of jihad in their protests against this, is another question.]
Of course, for Hindus, I'd imagine, these distinctions between worship/veneration/lauding/honor might be a little excessive. Hinduism blurs all these ... one venerates and reverences a variety of things: one's parents, one's ancestors, trees, stones, etc. [So, when I go back to India and greet my parents, I touch their feet ... a sign of respect. Not of worship, in the sense of latria.]
So, it seems to me, an Indian Christian should be able to sing this hymn, with the proper qualifiers and some proper catechesis about the language, and a Christian understanding of nationalism, remembering that our citizenship, ultimately, is in heaven.
Such things are, however, rarely abstract or dispassionate in India. They soon acquire political colorings: so the state of Gujarat mandates singing this song in schools, probably designed to intentionally offend Muslims. The anti-Muslim (and anti-minority) sentiment is sadly quite strong in Gujarat. When there is a reqaction from monotheistic Indians, they'll be accused of not being patriotic and so on.
I'm tempted to stop singing Vande Mataram just to be subversive to the saffron brigade that has the chokehold of power in Gandhinagar ... but that's not a very helpful reaction either.
Besides, I don't think I've sung Vande Mataram since school ...
:: sigh :: You just can't win.