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GNLF bans Saraswati idol worship

The move to ban worship of Saraswati idols during Basant Panchmi in the Darjeeling hills was aimed at preserving its tribal character.

india Updated: Jan 22, 2006 18:57 IST

The Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) has banned the worship of Saraswati idols in the Darjeeling hills during Basant Panchami next month, a step aimed at "preserving its tribal character".

This follows the diktat of the GNLF supremo and administrator of caretaker Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council Subash Ghising who had disallowed worship of Viswakarma and Durga idols in the hills to strengthen his demand for recognition of council under the sixth schedule of Constitution.

Instead, in keeping with tribal practices, the hill people were allowed to worship 'shilas' (stones) representing the god or goddess. Barring one or two cases all community puja committees in the Darjeeling hills accepted Ghising's diktat and refrained from worshipping idols.

"We have to go back to our traditional culture as we have been offered the sixth schedule," Darjeeling district president of GNLF Dipak Gurung said.

The idol makers who used to so brisk business in the hills during Viswakarma and Durga puja each year had to bear the brunt of the situation and suffered huge losses this year as they had to return advance payments received from the puja organisers.

First Published: Jan 22, 2006 16:01 IST