Stalls near Mangaladevi Temple Wear a Hindutva Look with Display of Saffron Flags at Navratri Fest
Mangaluru: After the controversy over a ban on Muslim merchants at the festival fair near Mangaladevi Temple ended, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) members launched a campaign of putting up saffron flags in front of all Hindu traders’ shops at the premises. It may be recalled that the Dakshina Kannada and Udupi District Festival Traders Coordination Committee had held a protest in the city on Friday, demanding stalls for Muslim merchants too, during the Navratri festival fair.
Later, a few Muslim traders also were allowed to participate in the public auction, and secured space to conduct business by the side of the road to the temple during Navratri. However, on Monday, VHP members tied saffron flags to the stalls of all Hindu merchants on the road to Mangaladevi temple. VHP Dakshina Kannada district president HK Purushothama Dattanagara said that all temples in the district should allow only Hindu merchants to conduct business during festivals.
“We thank the management committee of Mangaladevi Temple for giving the opportunity to Hindu merchants to conduct business during the festival. However, it was not right on part of the district administration to hand over stalls to non-Hindus in a re-auction. As per the Hindu Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowments Act, 1997, there is no provision to allow non-Hindus to conduct business on Ratha Beedi (chariot street). All Hindu merchants depend only on the business during festivals for their livelihood. Hence, devotees should visit stalls of Hindu merchants where saffron flags are put up,” he said.
He added that the VHP is not against poor Muslim merchants. “Religious places are our right, and there is no provision for others to conduct business on the ratha beedi. We have no objection if they conduct business in any other places, away from the ratha beedi,” Purushothama said. Meanwhile, DYFI district president and honorary president of the Street Vendors Association, BK Imthiyaz, said that the VHP is engaged in creating a rift between poor Hindu and Muslim merchants, who have been conducting business at festival fairs as a source of livelihood. Imthiyaz urged the district administration to ensure protection for all festival fair merchants at Mangaladevi temple and all other shrines.
In conclusion, in my perspective, in the eyes of God, we are all equal, and when religious festivals are celebrated especially Navratri/Dasara which is patronized by people of all religions, why even try to create disharmony with saffron outfits? If you look at Kudroli temple which celebrates Navaratri/Dasar on a BIG Scale the organizing committee has no restrictions on who is doing business in and around the temple premises irrespective of caste or religion-so why we are seeing this discrimination against Muslim traders trying to earn a few bucks for their living selling items at the Mangaladevi Dasara festival.
Why do even the temple officials have to go hand in hand with the saffron outfits, especially during such religious festivals? If you look at the festivals of Christian or Muslim communities, everyone irrespective of religion is freely allowed to do their temporary business during the festival period. After all, the area in front of the Mangaladevi temple is Mangaluru City Corporation property, so why not allow everyone to do business equally on tax-payer’s land.