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Worship practice of Hindu religion in official functions should be considered appropriate

By NS Venkataraman*
The new Indian parliament building was inaugurated with much fanfare, pomp and show by Prime Minister Modi befitting the occasion. While the magnificent building with several technological features was built in just over two years , the style and structure of the building has been acclaimed by millions of people who saw the inaugural programme. Those who saw this programme in person or in visual media could not miss the fact that the installation of Sengol ( Sceptre) was the hall mark of this elegant programme . In India, historically, Sengol is considered to be the symbol of justice and good governance.
Amongst vedic chants by Hindu priests, Prime Minister Modi performed Ganapathi Puja (devotional prayer) and prostrated before the Sengol. He then sought the blessings from the Hindu priests and walked in procession carrying the Sengol , while vedic mantras were chanted and he installed it in the right side of the speaker’s chair in the Parliament.
The discerning observers see the Sengol installation ceremony by Mr. Modi as a very significant event, indicating as to in which direction Mr. Modi would lead India in the coming years. After installing the Sengol, Mr. Modi delivered a 35 minutes talk with his usual emotional eloquence ,painting a very bright picture of future India and obviously indicating that this Sengol would remind constantly those in charge of governance about the need for the probity and honesty in governance and fair play to people in all levels of society.
While the habitual critics of Mr. Modi have criticized the Sengol installation ceremony, by and large, people of India have reacted with great enthusiasm and view the installed Sengol with respect and hope. The sworn critics of Mr. Modi have termed the inaugural function of new parliament house as per Hindu practices as anti secular act
In India today, the word secularism is a much abused and misused term, where anything done in the name of Hindu practices is termed not secular and any religious activities amongst other religions are termed secular. In other words , those spreading Hindu philosophy and way of life are deemed to be lacking in secular credentials. In Indian democracy , where vote bank politics has become the central theme during the elections, many political parties try to corner the votes of those belonging to minority religions by calling themselves as secular and progressive parties and at the same time decrying those who speak about the Hindu ethos.
In such circumstances, Mr. Modi has exhibited high level of courage of conviction by not concealing the fact that he is a Hindu in letter and spirit, even as he respects other religions. In the parliament inauguration programme after performing elaborate Hindu pujas , all the other religious representatives were given time to offer prayers as per the religious dictum.
In the last nine years after becoming the Prime Minister, there have been several occasions when Mr. Modi has done worship in Hindu temples in full public view and one of the most important events was Mr. Modi performing Puja , as per Hindu religious practice during the foundation laying ceremony of Ram Janma bhoomi temple. While such pujas were done in temples by Mr. Modi in the past, this is, perhaps, the first time that Mr. Modi has done Puja as per Hindu religious practice in a major official function for inaugurating new parliament building, extensively seen all over India and abroad.
The origin of Hindu religion is India and Hindu religion has been there in India for several thousands of years More than 75 % of Indians owe their allegiance to Hindu religion.
While in several countries , religious prayers are done during the official programmes just as praying with Holy Koran in Islamic countries and Holy Bible in Christian countries , such practice has not been followed in India in any major official function In Christian and Islamic countries too, there are many inhabitants and citizens who belong to other religions and they do not object to muslims and christians following the religious practice in official functions. If such practices are considered right in those countries , Mr. Modi following Hindu religious practice for inauguration of parliament in India is right too.
While India can continue to be a secular country allowing freedom for all religions, similar to several other democratic countries such as USA, Canada and Europe, adopting the worship practice of Hindu religion in official functions in India should be considered appropriate.
It is high time to recognise the fact that there is a grievance amongst many Hindus in India that they are being discriminated against by several government policy measures , while benefiting the minority religions in the name of secular principles. The immediate example is the Hindu temples being administered by the governments with considerable interference in day today affairs and even diverting the income of the Hindu temples to several other purposes. The mosque, churches and gurudwaras are not under the control of the government but left to be managed by the leaders of those religions. So many other examples can be readily cited.
It is high time that every Indian whether christian, muslim, sikh or buddhist recognize that India is essentially a country based ion Hindu ethos, even as people belonging to other religions are at total liberty to follow their religious dictums. Any objection to Mr. Modi following Hindu religious practices for inaugurating the new parliament is not appropriate . Mr. Modi has shown the way and blown out the unreal secularism phobia.
By installing Sengol that symbolizes honesty and probity in governance, Mr. Modi has brought the attention of the nation about high principles that should be the hallmark of fair governance. He has ensured that Sengol would all the time keep the focus of the country on marching forward with principles of truth and honesty in governance.
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*Trustee, Nandini Voice For The Deprived, Chennai

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