Bhopal: Hindu outfits, Idol makers angry over ban on Ganesh festival, Durga Utsav amid corona crisis

BHOPAL: The ban on public celebrations of Ganesh festival and Durga Utsav because of the corona pandemic has fuelled anger among Hindu organisations and idol-makers in the city.

On the one hand, Hindu bodies have called the ban an assault on the Hindu culture and civilisation and planned an agitation against the government. On the other hand, the bar on festivals has put the artisans through the mill, because the idols they have made by spending lots of money remained unsold. They, too, have planned to stage a demonstration outside the chief minister’s residence with the unsold idols.

The Hindu organisations also pointed out that while Ganesh festival was banned a huge political gathering was organised at Gwalior on Saturday where thousands of Congress workers supposedly joined the ruling party.

“The BJP claims that it is a party of the Hindus. But what its government is doing is anti-Hindu. I will resign from the party along with thousands of other workers if permission is not granted for celebrations of Durga Utsav within the next 15 days,” Chandrashekhar Tiwari, President of Sanskriti Bachao Manch told Free Press.

Another artist Bharat Prajapati said he borrowed Rs 4.5 lakh by mortgaging the registry of his house. He made 120 idols but could only sell five. “We are on the verge of starvation,” said Bharat who has six members of his family to feed. He is also suffering from eye tumour.

Dev Prajapati said they had to face huge losses due to the ban. “The government is not listening to us so we have no option but to protest,” he said.

Tiwari said that when markets, malls, offices and even liquor shops can open with the condition that they would adhere to guidelines, why can’t Hindu festivals be celebrated with the observance of proper precautions. “The leaders of the BJP had opposed the Congress’ government’s decision to cap the height of Durga idols last year. They had declared that government had no business interfering in religious affairs. Now that the party is in power, Hindus are being suppressed and humiliated. Cops are visiting mohallas threatening the parents of children who installed Ganesh Pandals. What is all this,” he asked.

He accused Home Minister Narottam Mishra of doublespeak. “When the idol makers met him, he asked them to go ahead with making the idols. And later, he announced a ban on public celebrations. This has ruined hundreds of idol-makers,” he said.“Hindus were not permitted to visit Shiva temples during the Shrawan month; they were not allowed to celebrate Janmashtami and Rakhi and now Ganesh Utsav has been banned. We are not ready to put up with this dictatorship,” he said.

Tiwari said that he is holding discussions with other Hindu organisations and representatives of more than 250 Durga and Ganesh Utsav Samitis. “We would go to any extent if the government does not permit celebrations of Nav Ratri,” he said.

Tiwari said that when markets, malls, offices and even liquor shops can open with the condition that they would adhere to guidelines, why can’t Hindu festivals be celebrated with the observance of proper precautions.

Artist Ajay Prajapati said there are around 600 families in the city who make Ganesh idols and they all are sitting on huge stocks of unsold idols. “Out of the 150 idols I made, I could sell only three,” said Ajay, who is the breadwinner of his family. He took Rs 1 lakh as loan from his friends and pawned vehicles and jewellery to raise more funds. “We would protest at CM's residence with unsold Ganesha idols,” he said.

Another artist Bharat Prajapati said he borrowed Rs 4.5 lakh by mortgaging the registry of his house. He made 120 idols but could only sell five. “We are on the verge of starvation,” said Bharat who has six members of his family to feed. He is also suffering from eye tumour.

Dev Prajapati said they had to face huge losses due to the ban. “The government is not listening to us so we have no option but to protest,” he said.

Tiwari said that when markets, malls, offices and even liquor shops can open with the condition that they would adhere to guidelines, why can’t Hindu festivals be celebrated with the observance of proper precautions. “The leaders of the BJP had opposed the Congress’ government’s decision to cap the height of Durga idols last year. They had declared that government had no business interfering in religious affairs. Now that the party is in power, Hindus are being suppressed and humiliated. Cops are visiting mohallas threatening the parents of children who installed Ganesh Pandals. What is all this,” he asked.

He accused Home Minister Narottam Mishra of doublespeak. “When the idol makers met him, he asked them to go ahead with making the idols. And later, he announced a ban on public celebrations. This has ruined hundreds of idol-makers,” he said.

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