Krishna Mutt faces protest against hosting iftaar and namaaz
UDUPI: Though here to protest an iftar and namaaz organized by the chief seer of the Paryaya Pejawar Mutt, the Sri Ram Sena and the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti made varying demands at the joint protest prayers held in the town of Udupi this morning. The chief seer, Vishwesha Tirtha Swami had hosted over 150 Muslims at an iftaar held at the Annabrahma dining hall near the Shri Krishna Mutt complex on June 24.
The protesters gathered in front of the Udupi clock tower waving saffron flags depicting Shivaji Maharaja and carrying placards denouncing the act. Slogans in praise of the god Ram, the god Hanuman and the Hindu Rashtra rang the air as a picture of the god Krishna was temporarily instituted below the tower to which the gathering sang bhajans.
Both the Sena and the Samiti agreed that the offering of namaaz near the Mutt had ‘violated’ the Mutt’s sanctity, but while the Sena members said they were not against the hosting of the iftaar, Samiti members denounced the iftar too and demanded the purification of the Mutt complex to restore its sanctity.
The seer had earlier firmly advocated that organizing the iftaar and the namaz at the Mutt were not unnatural, owing to an ancient understanding between people of the two faiths in the region. Such actions would help develop tolerance and harmony, he had said.
Both the Congress and the BJP had taken the seer’s side, encouraging the move while the founder of the Sri Ram Sena Pramod Muthalik had strongly condemned the act.
Mahesh Bhat, the secretary of the Sri Ram Sena from Mangalore quashed all rumours of a rally being organized to the Mutt. He also said that the Sena was not against the chief seer and did not want to cause trouble to the Mutt as they held it in high respects, but “the chief seer should think on allowing the reading of namaaz as that disturbs the sanctity of the temple”.
The Samiti made tougher demands, asking the chief seer apologize to the whole Hindu community for allowing the iftaar and the reading of namaaz. “Such activities in the Shri Krishna Mutt are disrespectful to the deity, for Sri Krishna himself was the biggest gau-rakshak” said Vijay Kumar, coordinator for the Hindu Janajagriti Samiti. They also demanded that the sanctity of the premises be restored with gaumutra (cow urine), and such activities in the Mutt premises be discontinued. The Samiti has also warned of future protests if the seer does not apologise.
Walking through the congregation, the lines between the two organisations blurred and expanded into each other. While some were not aware of the differing demands, others made up their own demands such as the mosque allowing the reading of the Hanuman Chalisa inside its premises in return for the iftar at the Mutt. Some even criticised the Muslims attending the iftaar, taunting that holding namaaz in a place of worship for the vahu-devata (many gods) made them a kaafir (apostle).
The protest culminated peacefully under close observation of the police.
Edited by Shivani Singh
Featured image courtesy: Soumyajit Saha