Temple ideas

J&K LG prayers at Martand Sun Temple in violation of rules, ASI officials say

New Delhi: A day after the Lieutenant Governor of Jammu and Kashmir, Manoj Sinha, participated in prayers at the Martand Sun temple in Anantnag, Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) officials said on May 9 that the event was in violation of the rules.

ASI officials said no permission was sought from the conservation body for the prayers. They added that the issue had been raised with the Union Territory administration.

Sinha participated in the “Navgrah Ashtamangalam pooja” at the old temple premises for which priests were called from outside the Union Territory.

“We have raised our concerns with the district administration. They received a message stating that this is a violation of our rules. No permission was asked of us for the prayers. The lieutenant governor did not hold the prayers inside the temple, but outside. However, even that is a violation,” an ASI official said. PTI on condition of anonymity.

The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Rule 7(1) 1959 states that meetings, receptions, parties, entertainment or conferences may not take place in a protected monument without the written permission of the Union Government.

Rule 7(2) states that this should not apply to any event held “under recognized religious usage or custom”.

Under the rules, if a site was a functioning place of worship when it was under the conservation body’s jurisdiction, it would continue to be a place of worship, officials said.

However, the Martand Sun Temple was not such a site, so permission had to be sought, officials said. These protected sites which functioned as places of worship when ASI took over include Jamia Mosque, Srinagar and Fatehpur Sikri Mosque.

The 8th century Martand temple is one of the oldest sun temples in India and a symbol of priceless spiritual heritage. It is said to have been destroyed during the reign of Sikandar Shah Miri between 1389 and 1413, the Indian Express reported.

According to the newspaper, this is the second religious ceremony to be held at the temple in recent days.

On May 6, more than 100 pilgrims prayed for a few hours at the ASI-protected temple, the daily reported. The contingent, led by Maharaj Rudranath Anhad Mahakal, carried a saffron flag with Om written on it, as well as a tricolor. Pilgrims chanted “Har Har Mahadev” and blew conch shells.

This is the first time that prayers have been organized in Martand. Rudranath told the daily that the idea behind offering prayers was to ‘revive Maa Bharat’ as Kashmir was its ‘head and brain’.

(With PTI entries)