Religious leaders, VHP activists to go ahead with festivals, jatras

Cannot cancel events that are held for the welfare of people, says swami

While the State government has banned holding any religious festivals and temple jatras to contain the spread of COVID-19, some religious leaders, heads of temple management committees and Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) activists said here on Saturday that they will go ahead with Kolas, Nemotsava, Brahmakalasha, and temple fairs by complying with safety norms.

“We cannot cancel these events that are held for the welfare of people. Some of these religious events have already begun and it cannot be stopped abruptly. We will go ahead with the events by strictly complying with the COVID-19 safety norms,” Mohandas Paramahamsa swami of Mahalakshmi Temple in Manila told reporters on Saturday.

Former president of Dakshina Kannada BJP unit and former MLC K. Monappa Bhandary, who is a member of Gopalakrishna Temple in Shakti Nagar, said it was wrong on the part of the government to totally ban holding of religious programmes. “Just like they have restricted numbers for organising marriages and political events, similar restrictions can be placed for religious programmes. They cannot ban holding of these events with which people are closely associated with,” he said.

Opposing the move of the State government, VHP Mangaluru divisional secretary Sharan Pumpwell said that the VHP and Bajrang Dal will not accept blanket ban on religious events. “More than 15 temples have scheduled their Brahmakalasha utsavas. A lot of Bhajana Mandiras have scheduled bhajan programmes on Ramanavami on April 21. There are Nemotsavas and kolas scheduled. Government should allow these events to be held,” he said.

Earlier, they met Deputy Commissioner K.V. Rajendra and demanded relaxation in holding of religious events. Dr. Rajendra reportedly told them that he is bound by the orders passed by the Chief Secretary to ban religious festivals. In the evening, the delegation met State BJP President and Dakshina Kannada MP Nalin Kumar Kateel and asked the latter to seek intervention of the Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa on this issue.

Condemning the State government’s action, Udupi MLA K. Raghupathi Bhat, in a statement, said the regions of Udupi and Dakshina Kannada are known for religious events, which are source of livelihood for many families. Banning of religious events not only hurts religious sentiments but also places a huge dent on revenue for several families.

The ban on religious events last year made life miserable for many families. Do not drive people to despair this year too, he said.

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