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UP has over 11% of India’s shrines. How will it follow court order on muffling their sound?

Census 2011 says there are 3,54,421 places of worship — temples, mosques, churches and gurudwaras and other religious places in Uttar Pradesh, and enforcing a High Court order on regulation of loudspeakers would be a challenge.

india Updated: Jan 10, 2018 22:52 IST
Brajendra K Parashar
Brajendra K Parashar
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
places of worship,Allahabad high court,shrines in India
A worker adjusts loudspeakers at a camp during the Magh Mela festival in Allahabad on January 6, 2018. Allahabad has more than 12,000 shrines.(AFP)

Regulating the use of loudspeakers at places of worship as recently directed by the Allahabad high court may be a hard nut to crack for the Uttar Pradesh administration, going by the burgeoning number of shrines in the state.

The country’s most populous state, which is desperately seeking investment to create employment opportunities, has more shrines to pray than factories to work in, and even outnumbers schools, colleges, hospitals and dispensaries all put together.

Census 2011 says there are 3,54,421 places of worship — temples, mosques, churches and gurdwaras and other religious places in the state. Rural regions have 2,95,399 of these places while the remaining 59,022 are in cities and towns.

On the other hand, there are 256,746 schools and colleges, and 80,727 hospitals and dispensaries in UP, and 213,862 factories and workshops.

“We don’t maintain a category-wise record of places of worship. Rather we identify houses (buildings) and the uses to which they are put, and they may be schools, hospitals, offices, temples, mosques, churches, gurudwaras and the last four and similar other spots are categorised as ‘place of worship’,” AK Srivastav, an official in the census department, said.

This number is nearly 12% of the country’s total of 3,013,315 places of worships mentioned in the census, giving UP the distinction of having the largest number of shrines in the country.

Other states high on shrines are Maharashtra, West Bengal, Rajasthan and Karnataka.

“This is true UP leads the country in the number of religious places” ex-director of Giri Institute of Developmental Studies, Ajit Kumar Singh said.

“One reason for the mushrooming growth of shrines in UP, apart from its population, is coming up of a large number of mosques especially in the Central and the East UP during last two decades. They have been built and funded largely by Muslims who migrated to the Arab and Gulf countries,” he explained. “However, the number of other places of worship, especially temples have also increased.”

Allahabad district tops the list, followed by Jaunpur and Raebareli. Other leading districts are Azamgarh, Pratapgarh, Sultanpur, Sitapur, Agra and Gorakhpur. They all have more than 7,000 shrines each.

Lucknow as a district has 5,991 places of worship, while the city itself has 2,707 shrines. Kanpur (2,287), Varanasi (1,500) Agra (1,401) and Bareilly (1,180) follow.

Enforcing the High Court’s order on regulation of loudspeakers, Singh admitted, would certainly be a challenge.

First Published: Jan 10, 2018 22:52 IST