Karnataka

Belur temple fest begins with recital of Quran

Hundreds of devotees attend the rathotsava (chariot or car festival) at the historic Chennakeshava temple in Belur, Hassan district of Karnataka on April 13, 2022.

Hundreds of devotees attend the rathotsava (chariot or car festival) at the historic Chennakeshava temple in Belur, Hassan district of Karnataka on April 13, 2022. | Photo Credit: Prakash Hassan

“I have been participating in the festival for the last 50 years,” says Syed Sajjad Khaji of Dodda Meduru, who read out excerpts from the Quran (Koran) to mark the beginning of the rathotsava (chariot or car festival) at the historic Chennakeshava temple in Belur on April 13.

His forefathers had read out excerpts from the Quran (Koran) during the festival in the past, and his children would continue the tradition in future, he says. “Whether you read Bible, Bhagvad Gita or the Koran, all texts spread the same message,” he adds, philosophically.

While Karnataka has seen several instances of Muslims being barred from putting up shops during temple festivals, the rathotsava at the 900-year-old Chennakeshava temple struck a different note by staying with the syncretic tradition. The festival began only after the moulvi recited the Koran, a custom whose origins are not clearly known in the temple built by Hoysala rulers.

Video | Moulvi recites Quran to mark beginning of Chennakeshava temple festival in Belur

K. Vidyullatha, Executive Officer of the temple, said that the custom is mentioned in the temple manual, which dates back to 1932. “We are following the customs mentioned in the manual. I am told this tradition has been followed for centuries. According to the chief priest, the custom began with the objective of involving people of all religions in the festival,” the officer said.

The temple regularly gives foodgrains to the families that play a role in the festival, as per the manual.

The festival saw around 15 Muslim shopkeepers putting up stalls in the temple premises, with civil society groups putting pressure on the authorities not to exclude them.

Ahead of the festival, members of Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Bajrang Dal had submitted a memorandum to the taluk administration seeking a ban on Muslim traders during the festival. They demanded that no Muslim be allowed to put up stalls during the festival, like in temples in Shivamogga and Sirsi. They succeeded in closing a shop run by a Muslim in a building that belongs to the temple. The Executive Officer ordered closure of the shop citing the Karnataka Hindu Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowments Act, 2002, which restricts allotment of space in Hindu religious institutions to non-Hindus.

Later, members of Dalit Sangharsha Samiti, Communist Part of India (Marxist), Raitha Sangha and other progressive organisations organised processions in Hassan and Belur to put pressure on the district administration not to comply with the demands of the Hindutva organisations. They wanted the district administration to facilitate the temple festival in a harmonious manner and participation of every community in the event. Elected representatives of the district too stressed on the need for participation of all communities., resulting in permission for all entrepreneurs to set up stalls during the festival.


Our code of editorial values

Related Topics
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Jun 23, 2022 6:51:27 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/amidst-communal-strife-in-karnataka-belurs-historic-chennakeshava-temple-strikes-a-note-of-harmony/article65320677.ece