Traditional temple

Karnataka: Belur Temple continues the tradition of launching the festival with the recitation of the Quran

The historic Chennakeshava Temple in Belur continued its centuries-old tradition of launching the rathotsava (car festival) after reciting passages from the Quran, despite opposition from right-wing activists.

Maulvi Syed Sajjad Basha sang verses from the Quran on the first day of rathotsava on Wednesday before the chariot was pulled. (Express photo)

The state endowment department cleared temple authorities to continue the practice on Wednesday. The annual celebrations began on Wednesday under strict surveillance by district police. Hundreds of people from across the state thronged the Chennakeshava Temple to witness the two-day festival.

“Reading excerpts from the Quran is a tradition but this year there was confusion as temple authorities initially issued a notice prohibiting Muslim shopkeepers from setting up stalls. However, the endowment department took the suggestion of various priests and decided to continue the tradition,” an endowment department official told The Indian Express.

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According to tradition, a maulvi reads excerpts from the Quran to mark the start of celebrations at the Chennakeshava temple. Recently, as the specter of communal tensions loomed over Karnataka, right-wing activists had urged the district administration and temple authorities to ban Muslim traders from attending the festival.

However, the state endowment department had ordered the temple administration not to ban non-Hindu traders and allowed them to set up stalls and participate in the celebrations, according to senior department officials. “As a result, around 15 Muslim traders had set up their shops,” a senior official told The Indian Express.

Maulvi Syed Sajjad Basha sang verses from the Quran on the first day of rathotsava on Wednesday before the chariot was pulled. Speaking to The Indian Express, Basha, a maulvi from Doddamedur village in Hassan district, said: “The recitation of Quran verses before the start of the car festival has been a tradition for generations by my ancestors. This year too I recited verses from the Koran, as a symbol of Hindu-Muslim brotherhood. Hindus and Muslims should live united with the blessings of God. »

Earlier, Vidyulatha, chief executive of Belur Sri Chennakeshava Swamy Temple, had issued a notice to non-Hindu traders, asking them not to do business near the temple. “In accordance with the Hindu Religious Institutions and Charitable Foundations (HCRE) Act of Karnataka, a notice has been sent to non-Hindu traders. Now, as per the instructions of the endowments department, non-Hindu traders have been allowed to do business during the festival,” Vidyulatha told The Indian Express.

Speaking to The Indian Express, Rahil, a non-Hindu trader who has been doing business near the Channakeshava temple for 40 years, said: “I am happy that the administration has allowed us to do business. Our family has been doing business in the shopping complex for 40 years near the temple and our family depends on it.

There were no untoward incidents during the temple event although earlier some representatives of pro-Hindutva groups urged the district administration to ban non-Hindu traders from attending the festival.