‘Aarti’ at the Taj Mahal: attempt to instill sense of loss among Hindus?
The global fame of the monument ensures them quick recognition and they can successfully keep core issues of joblessness and social anarchy out.
Last Wednesday, the Archeological Survey of India (ASI), the agency responsible for the security and upkeep of the world famous Taj Mahal in Agra, sprung into action after a local political leader announced that the group would perform ‘aarti’ inside the premises of the Mughal-era monument on Monday, July 22, 2019.
The ASI wrote to the Uttar Pradesh administration asking for extra security of the premises; today the situation in and around the Taj Mahal is tense with a big posse of policemen posted and tourists affected. Many visitors, both domestic and foreign, seem to have avoided the Taj today.
Who benefits from this situation?
Social scientists say groups which call for such campaigns “seek attention and validation” and it is part of their plan to drum up support by instilling “a sense of loss” within the majority community.
Shiv Sena’s Agra district president Veenu Lavania announced last week that he and his cadres would storm the compound housing the medieval marvel and perform “aarti” on the occasion of the ‘Sawan Somvar’ or the Monday of the Sawan month, a sacred day for Shiva devotees. He dared the police and district administration to stop him. Lavania alleges that Taj Mahal is not a mausoleum, but a pre-Mughal era temple.
This is the not the first instance of a radical group making such claims and topping it with a threat to enter the Taj premises to “claim their right to worship.”
Right-wing outfits in Agra have held aarti for Shiva at the Dusshera Ghat beside the Taj Mahal on several occasions and fringe elements have called for protests outside the monument’s compound demanding “worship rights” inside the premises. The Taj compound also houses an operational mosque which holds namaaz every Friday; radical outfits have demanded that this stop.
“Fringe elements for the sake of getting attention have on several occasions done this but I think what is worrying is that a political party which is part of Parliament is doing it this time. The basic idea is to instill a sense of loss among the majority community and win them over as a voting block,” social scientist Arvind Murti told Asiaville.
The global fame of the monument ensures them quick recognition and they can successfully keep core issues of joblessness and social anarchy out, he added.
Badri Narayan Tiwari, head of the G.B. Pant Social Science Institute, Allahabad feels that “there is nothing important in the development to comment on.”
“It is of concern but does not warrant a comment because that is exactly what the intention behind the move is,” he told Asiaville.
Taj Mahal was built by Mughal emperor Shahjahan in memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal between 1631-1653.
Some within the rightwing fold in India claim that the name Taj Mahal is a ‘corrupted’ version of Tejo Mahalaya meaning Shiva’s Palace. The claim is so much prevalent that former BJP parliamentarian Vinay Katiyar have also supported the claim on one occasion.
The Archaeological Survey of India has, on multiple occasions, clarified, including in court, that the mausoleum was built by Shah Jahan and the claims that the Taj Mahal was actually a Shiva temple are without basis.
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