The "padukas" had been in the district treasury ever since the shrine caved in after heavy rain in 2008

The Guru Dattatreya Bababudan Swami Dargah atop Bababudangiri will be opened for devotees in a fortnight, with the repair of the dilapidated shrine completed and the “Datta padukas” placed back. The “padukas” had been in the district treasury ever since the shrine caved in after heavy rain in 2008.

Chikmagalur Deputy Commissioner S.T. Anjan Kumar said that placing back the “padukas” was an administrative matter and the shrine too would be opened once basic amenities were provided.

However, Vishwa Hindu Parishat (VHP) and other right-wing groups, which have been demanding that the Hindu-Muslim syncretic shrine be declared a Hindu temple, are using this opportunity to push their demand.

VHP Chikmagalur district treasurer Yogeesh Raj Urs sought to know why the administration did not place back the “padukas”’ in the presence of the devotees, accompanied by Hindu rituals. Sri Rama Sene headed by Pramod Mutalik has demanded that the district administration allow the outfit to perform “Datta Paduka puja” during Datta Mala Abhiyan slated to be held between November 19 and 25. The VHP too has planned Datta Jayanti in December.

Meanwhile, final hearing of the special leave petition filed by the Karnataka Komu Sauharda Vedike and others to retain the Sufi nature of the disputed place of worship in the hill shrine is slated for final hearing by the end of this month. In 2008, the Supreme Court had ordered status quo at the shrine “in terms of the order of February 25, 1989, passed by the Commissioner for Religious and Charitable Endowments in Karnataka” until final orders.

The 1989 order had codified rituals upholding the syncretic practices.

Syed Ghouse Mohiyuddin Shakhadri, the Sajjada Nasheen (hereditary administrator) of the Sufi shrine, told The Hindu that while he welcomed the long-awaited re-opening of the shrine for public, no new rituals should be allowed during the Abhiyan or Jayanti.

K.L. Ashok, State secretary of the vedike, said the administration should maintain status quo as per the Supreme Court direction “without yielding to any political pressure.”

Rituals

He said that the 1989 order had made it clear that only ‘Mujavar’ should enter the sanctum sanctorum to conduct rituals.

“On special occasions, seers of some recognised maths can be allowed into the sanctum sanctorum, while regular darshana is allowed for all irrespective of caste, creed or religion,” he said.

Mr. Ashok expressed concern about the “hidden designs” behind the demand for ‘paduka puja’ and the “soft attitude” of governments towards organisations demanding it.

“Even earlier, the State complied with right-wing forces in violating the court order and trying to smuggle in idols, which was eventually stopped after the Supreme Court’s intervention,” he added.

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