Special Correspondent

Sequel to controversy over the date for the celebration of Ugadi

HYDERABAD: Yielding to pressure from sections of society favouring the celebration of Ugadi, on March 20, the State Government has declared an optional holiday for its offices and institutions on Tuesday.

A general holiday has already been declared for March 19, the date accepted by the Government for the festival on the basis of "majority opinion" expressed by 33 out of the 39 `agama' scholars at a meeting recently.

This is the first time that an optional holiday has been declared immediately after a general holiday for the same festival.

Meanwhile, after consultations with `peetadhipathi's, `panchangakarthas' and other religious heads, the AP Brahmana Sevasangh Samkhya declared `Ugadi' on March 20, the day of `Sarvjit Nama Samvatsaram'.

In a statement, Kota Shankara Sharma, general secretary, said that March 19 was inauspicious due to `Amavasya' and a solar eclipse.

Government flayed

State BJP president B. Dattatreya decried the Government's `interference' in religious issues and described its `unilateral' announcement of Ugadi holiday on March 19 as `unwarranted'.

He said the holiday declaration was a deliberate attempt to cause confusion and unrest in celebrating `Hindu festivals'.

Mr. Dattatreya regretted that the Government had chosen celebration of festivals as a means to drive a wedge among heads of various mutts, peethams and dharmacharyas. In another related development, the Centre for Inquiry (India) objected to the Government declaring holiday on religious festivals officially.

N. Innaiah, chairman, said that the Government should not `indulge in religious superstitions' and `favour one section of `agama pandits'.

He stated that it should let people celebrate the occasion according to their belief. He contended that holding of `panchanga sravanam' by the Government too amounted to violation of Article 51 A.

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