Karnataka temple festival begins with recital of Quran as usual
Hindu groups in the state sought the discontinuation of the ritual which they believe is against their religion.
The Rathotsava or chariot festival began at Karnataka’s Chennakeshava Temple with the traditional recital of the Quran even as Hindu groups sought the discontinuation of the ritual which they believe is against their religion.
Twelfth-century Hoysala king Vishnuvardhana consecrated the temple to mark his victories in 1116 against the Cholas. He called it Vijaya Narayana, which remains a landmark in Karnataka and attracts millions of tourists and devotees from India and abroad.
The chariot festival could not be held for two years because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Kazi Syed Sajeed Pasha, a Muslim priest, recited the Quranic verses before the start of the festival on Wednesday as members of the Hindu community flanked him.
This came against the backdrop of a series of campaigns targeting Muslims over issues like inter-faith relationships, hijab, halal, and calls for prayers. Non-Hindus have also been barred from taking part in temple fairs in Karnataka.
Organisers of the Karaga procession in Bengaluru were asked not to visit Hazrat Tawakkal Mastan Dargah as part of a tradition. But they continued the tradition by visiting it in Cottonpet.
“They have been following traditions and the same should be followed. I pray that all Hindus, Muslims, and Christians in the state and country should protect their unity. We should not allow disruption of these traditions,” said former minister HD Revanna.
Hindu groups have been campaigning to “raise awareness” including against seeking services of Muslim cab drivers and operators when going on pilgrimages.
Karnataka’s Bharatiya Janata Party has faced criticism for turning a blind eye to these campaigns. The state has faced bad press globally overshadowing its rich history of communal harmony and prowess in technology, start-ups, aerospace, etc. In cities such as Bengaluru, the home of India’s IT revolution, there have been demands for discontinuing the tradition of visiting mosques before Hindu festivals and fairs.