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Two days before rape verdict, state govt pushes Asaram idea

Two days before the verdict in a rape case against self-styled godman Asaram was to be pronounced, the state education department rolled out an order stating that February 14 will be celebrated as ’Matri-Pitri pujan diwas’

jaipur Updated: Apr 29, 2018 22:13 IST
Salik Ahmad
Salik Ahmad
Hindustan Times, Jaipur
Rajasthan News
The idea of ‘Matri-Pitri pujan diwas’ was first espoused by Asaram in 2012.(File/PTI)

Two days before the verdict in a rape case against self-styled godman Asaram was to be pronounced, the state education department rolled out an order stating that February 14 will be celebrated as “Matri-Pitri pujan diwas”, an idea first espoused by Asaram in 2012.

The godman, who has more than 400 ashrams across the country and more than 20 million followers, was convicted of rape of a minor girl by a special court in Jodhpur on April 25 and was sentenced to life in prison until death.

The education department’s order, issued on April 23, says that February 14 will be celebrated as Matri-Pitri pujan diwas--mother-father worship day--and the incorporation of the event in the academic calendar has been approved.

The order was signed by deputy secretary Ram Swaroop Jahalani, who told HT that the education minister Vasudev Devnani had announced about the celebrating of the day in the assembly in March. The minister could not be reached despite repeated calls and messages.

In 2012, Asaram, on a visit to Chhattisgarh, suggested the move to chief minister Raman Singh, following which the Singh-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in the state issued a notice stating that the event be celebrated in all schools across the state.

The event also spread to other states as other organisations celebrated and furthered the practice.

In December 2017, the Jharkhand government followed suit and ordered celebrating of Matri Pitri Pujan Diwas every year in all the schools of the state.

A page on Asaram’s website ashram.org is dedicated to the event that says: “His Holiness Pujya Asharam ji Bapu has initiated a divine day called “Parents’ Worship Day” to be celebrated on 14th February, as an alternative to Valentine’s Day”.

Reports say the day is being celebrated at his ashrams since 2007.

“He says love is innocent and love is divine. So let’s celebrate the love day in a divine way by worshiping our parents as Lord Ganesh did by worshiping Lord Shiva and Parvati,” the description on the webpage says.

Asaram’s message on the page exhorts Indians to shun Valentine’s Day as they are born in a pious land and are descendants of farsighted rishis.

“The west is on ruinous path. People there are falling prey to sexually transmitted diseases and depression celebrating the likes of ‘Valentine’s day’. Why should you imitate them?,” says the message.

The page also describes how to worship parents--making them sit, bowing to greet them, apply vermillion on their forehead, perform aarti, circumambulate them and seek their blessings.

First Published: Apr 29, 2018 22:13 IST