Construction of Lord Shiva’s temple in Sports Authority of India’s ( SAI) regional centre has not gone down well with the inmates of the centre as they feel the sports centre is a secular place and it’s wrong to have a place of worship of a particular religion on the campus.
Aware of the simmering discontent among the players and staff over the issue, SAI administration has sought to give the temple form of an all-religion place of worship with pictures of Mecca hung on one side of the temple and Gurudwara and church on the other side.
An employee on the condition of anonymity said that the SAI centre was a secular place where administration should respect and treat all religions equally.“The administration has constructed temple a year ago.They are also bearing all the expenses of temple.It’s difficult to understand, how they manage expenses from the funds, which have been allotted for sportspersons.”
“The construction of temple is not wrong but in the sports institute where sportspersons of all religions practice, administration shouldn’t give extra privilege to one religion.In last one year, administration organised Bhandara (mass feast) two times at the centre and director verbally instructed all the employees to attend the programme.This thing hurts the employees and sportsperson of other religions,” he added.
Former hockey Olympian Ashok Dhyanchand said, “Sports has no religion.In fact, sports is itself a religion. And sports institutes, academies and stadiums are like shrines and meccas.To promote one religion, by establishing a temple in the Sports Authority of India, regional centre, Bhopal, is unacceptable and against the sportsmanship spirit.”
Dhyanchand further said, “Every person believes in his/ her religion and before competition players pray for their success.To be a religious person is not at all a bad thing.If administration wants to make players spiritual, they should establish religious place for all religions.”
Denying allegations, SAI regional director, RK Naidu said, “It’s wrong that we are promoting one religion.It is a ‘Sarva Dharma’ temple.And the expenses of maintenance of temple are borne by villagers of Bisankhedi and Gora village.Even the temple was re-constructed by villagers.
However, when asked, villagers of Bisankhedi and Gora villages about construction and maintenance of temple, villagers replied that they have nothing to do with the temple.Badamilal, 50, of Bisankhedi village said, “Villagers have nothing to do with the temple of SAI regional centre.Villagers neither constructed the temple nor spend money in its maintenance.”
Gajraj Rathore said, “We have not constructed the temple but when we want to visit the temple, SAI regional centre staff allows us to perform worship in the temple.”