Everyday Harmony: Koranic verses recited at K’taka temple as Chariot Festival begins No bar against non-Muslims setting up stalls

14, Apr 2022 | CJP Team

Two weeks after calls for economic boycott of Muslims in the districts of Karnataka, a temple in Belur in Hassan district is paving the way for strengthening inter-faith bonds. The Chennakeshava temple is not only continuing its tradition of reciting Koranic verses at the beginning of its famous Rathotsav (chariot festival), it has also made provisions for non-Hindus to set up stalls in the complex.

Amidst reports of non-Hindus being shunned from temples and Hindu festivals in other parts of the country, this news comes as a breath of fresh air and reassures everyone that deep down inside, all Indians value pluralism and unity. The two-day chariot festival began on Wednesday April 14, with the recital of Koranic verses, as thousands of devotees thronged the Chennakeshava temple reported the Indian Express.

The temple is administered by the Karanataka muzrai department. Belur temple executive officer, Vidyulatha told the Times of India, “The muzrai commissioner’s office has directed that no officer, person or organisation is allowed to interfere in any tradition, ritual or custom under Section 58 of Hindu Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowments Act, 2002. Hence, the chanting of Quran verses will be conducted as mentioned in the Belur temple manual before pulling the chariot on the day of Brahma Rathotsava.”

Amidst the systematic hate leading to growing anger and despair, it is important to showcase a lived reality of camaraderie, equality and sharing which is the bedrock of the Indian Constitution and secularism. That way we not only hold on to every thread of hope, but effectively project these narratives, lest we lose our will to fight the good fight. As part of our #EverydayHarmony series, CJP brings you instances where Indians share and care, every single day… our food, our businesses, our homes and our friendships. This instances show how we Indians continue to reject hateful and divisive agendas even while street violence and social media are used as part of a sinister, hate-filled political agenda to tell us otherwise. Let’s reinforce India’s everyday lived reality, and through that collectively and aggressively, uphold and defend a unique pluralism, a diverse culture and truly secular values. Donate now to help us combat hate and prejudice!

As many as15 non-Hindus have been permitted to set up stalls during the two-day annual temple chariot festival starting today. According to the Times of India, the Chief Executive Officer of Belur Taluk Municipal Council, Sujay Kumar said, “There is no rule or law to stop non-Hindu vendors from carrying out business during temple fairs. Anyone can set up a stall by paying the prescribed fee.”The lone Muslim vendor who was asked to vacate his shop from the temple complex has been reportedly running a children’s toy shop for more than 50 years now in the temple complex. It has been reported that 15 out of the 60 makeshift stalls would now be set up for the temple fair by non-Hindu vendors in a huge parcel of land about 100 metres from the temple.

Former Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy has reportedly said that he would not allow any attempts to disturb communal harmony in his home district and has therefore asked former minister HD Revanna to amicably resolve the issue.

The ban on the Muslim minority from conducting business at temple first started in Marikamba temple in Shivamogga, which was then followed by other temples in Dakshina Kannada, Hassan, Tumukur, Chikkamagalur and other districts.The issue came to light when it was raised during zero hour in the State Assembly by Congress Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) UT Khader on March 23, 2022. The Karnataka State government made a statement in defence of the said ban by citing Rule 31, sub-rule 12, of the Karnataka Religious institutions and Charitable Endowment Rule 2002, which bans the leasing of land or buildings near temples to non-Hindus.

Reportedly, banners were put up outside some of these temples urging them not to lease stalls to Muslims. According to The Print, “Hindutva organisations including the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP), Hindu JagaranaVedike, and the Bajrang Dal have been submitting memorandums to temple authorities, municipal officials, and town councils, calling for a ban on Muslims setting up shops and stalls.”

As per Rule 31(12) of the Hindu Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowments Rules 2002, “No property, including land, building or sites situated near the institution (temple) shall be leased out to non-Hindus.”

Citing the Karnataka Religious institutions and Charitable Endowment Act, 2002, State Law Minister, JC Madhuswamy reportedly stated in the Assembly, “If these recent incidents of banning Muslim traders have occurred outside the premises of the religious institutions, we will rectify them. Otherwise, as per norms, no other community is allowed to set up shop on the premises.”

In what seemed like a defence of JC Madhuswamy’s statement, Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai reportedly said, “During such jathras (religious fairs), there are a lot of shops that are sub-leased. These people who take up the lease from the temple management board would do it for money. This is something that the government cannot interfere in. When it is such cases, we will look into the laws as well as the facts of the case.”

In sharp contrast to the stance of his party in Karnataka and elsewhere and the ruling government on the issue, BJP leader AH Vishwanath had spoken sharply and vociferously against these brazen attempts to not just deny Muslims their livelihood but on the political moves to create social divisions and schisms. The former Congress leader who is now a Member of Legislative Council (MLC) said, “No God or religion preaches these kinds of things. Religions are inclusive and not exclusive.” He further said, “This is a very sorry state of affairs. The government must take action or there will be a reaction from the people. People need livelihoods to feed themselves and clothe themselves and if there is no means of livelihood then what is the point of democracy, religion, caste — throw it all away. When there is no means to buy food, what are we searching for in this world.”

With a brazen confidence, Sri Rama Sene chief Pramod Muthalik, who isa serial hate offender with a history of making misogynistic statements, and even encouraging violence against women as witnessed during the infamous Mangalore pub attack in 2009, had said that the ban would continue until Muslims stopped eating beef, reported The Telegraph.

Leaving no stone unturned to inculpate the Opposition, the BJP led state government had argued in the Assembly that the said rules banning lease of land or buildings near temples to non-Hindus were framed in 2002 when the Congress was in power.

Explaining the reason behind framing these rules in 2002, former chief minister SM Krishna who was previously with the Congress had reportedly stated, “While non-Hindus were not allowed to do business near temples, Hindus were also not allowed to do business near mosques or churches. This was done to help vendors of respective faiths and not on religious lines.”

What is of particular concern however, is that there appears to be a pattern behind such calls for socio-economic boycott that have taken a particular turn in Karnataka, a state that goes to the polls next year. Other parts of India and within Karnataka too, have been a series of incidents reported that show that Muslim vendors and traders are not just being banned from temple fairs but are also being illegally kept out of streets that lead to the temples. This is a serious and calculated assault on their livelihood and a direct violation of Articles 14, 15(1) and 15(2) of the Constitution.

Therefore, the nod given to non-Hindus in Hassan district of Karnataka comes as ray of hope amongst the communal atmosphere in most parts of the country. Hopefully, this sets a strong precedent and other temples in the State of Karnataka also follow suit.

Image Courtesy: siasat.com


Are increasing calls for economic boycott of Muslims a sinister precursor to something worse?

Don’t stop at Muslim-owned dhabas, VHP, Bajrang Dal warn buses in Gujarat

CJP moves NCM over hate crimes against Muslims in Madhya Pradesh

Why is iDdosa batter giving communal trolls indigestion?

Hate Watch: Hindutva group raises slogans outside Muslim-owned shop in Gujarat


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Go to Top
Nafrat Ka Naqsha 2023