Channakeshava Rathotsava (annual chariot festival) was held in Belur on April 4 without recitation of the Quran (Koran). The moulvi (Muslim priest) from Dodda Meduru village in Belur taluk offered his prayers and accepted the felicitation from the temple administration.
Sajjad Basha Khadri Saheb, the moulvi, who has been reciting excerpts from the Quran at the beginning of the rathotsava, the annual chariot festival, in the past, chose not to do so this time.
In a written communication to the State Government, Khadri Saheb said, “I offered my prayers by reciting a shloka in our style, standing on the steps in front of the temple, and accepted the felicitation by the temple committee. I wish to convey that I have not recited the excerpts of the Quran.”
It is not clear why the moulvi decided not to read out excerpts from the Quran, which has been the practice for decades.
A few Hindutva activists had opposed recitation of the Quran during the annual chariot festival. Last week, they staged a protest urging the district administration to stop the practice.
Following the protest, the Department of Hindu Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowments sent a team of agama (tradition or ritual) experts. Based on their opinion, the department directed the temple authorities to conduct the rituals as per the temple manual and the tradition.
Hassan Deputy Commissioner M.S. Archana had told mediapersons that the moulvi would recite the excerpts standing on a pedestal near the temple.
Dr. Narayana Swamy, chairman of the temple management committee, told mediapersons that this time the moulvi had not read out excerpts from the Quran. “He has only offered his prayers. He has given in writing that he did not recite the Quran,” he said.
Hassan district administration had deployed police personnel in Belur to avoid any untoward incident during the celebrations. VHP and Bajrang Dal activists had threatened to stage a protest if the moulvi was allowed to recite excerpts from the Quran in front of the chariot.
The festival began around 11 a.m. amidst hundreds of devotees, including those who came from neighbouring taluks and districts.