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Ahmedabad Urdu medium schools in a fix over Saraswati puja circular

A circular directing municipal schools to perform Saraswati puja for Vasant Panchami festival, which falls on Saturday, has left Urdu medium schools in Ahmedabad in a quandary.


LD Desai, officer of the school board, Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation, issued the circular on January 19, which states, “All municipal schools are hereby informed that the festival of ‘Mahusud Pancham’ or ‘Vasant Panchmi’ is celebrated in worship of goddess Saraswati – the goddess of knowledge and learning. Life is nothing without education. With a view to instil the importance of learning among students, schools should perform ‘Saraswati puja’ and ‘Saraswati Vandana’ (incantation) during the prayer session. Information on how ‘Vasant Panchami’ is celebrated in different States should also be given.”


A few of the 60 Urdu medium schools in the city, attended chiefly by Muslim children, and their parents have raised concerns about the diktat for being incongruous with their faith, while some others have taken it with a pinch of salt.   


“No puja is conducted here. We follow our religion [Islam]. We can only inform the children that such a puja is performed on this day among the Hindus, but we cannot actually perform the ritual. If we do that there will be a backlash from the parents. We won’t be abiding by the circular and if we are questioned by the school management committee, we will explain our reasons. We know that goddess Saraswati is deity of knowledge and we can only inform the students about it,” the head teacher of an Urdu medium school in a Muslim-dominated locality of Ahmedabad told The Hindu.


The head teacher also said that this was the first time such a circular related to religion was issued to Urdu schools.


Principals of many schools were not ready to comment even on the condition of anonymity.


A principal of another Urdu school decided against informing the parents about the circular, preferring to let the day pass without occasion.


“Yes, the circular has been issued to all schools and requires to be followed, but it is not some kind of a decree,” he remarked.


“As Muslims, we do not offer puja and if there is one at school, we will see what’s to be done about it,” said GG Sheikh, grandfather of two girls studying in an Urdu school.


Not everyone seemed as perturbed. “There is no way that we will do the puja as our religion does not allow it. But if there is a regulation, it is not such a big issue. You can just remain present as a mark of respect,” said the mother of a class eight Urdu school student.


The AMC said such circulars were issued every year. “Our aim is very clear. We wanted to send a message about the importance of education,” AMC school board chairman Jagdish Bhavsar told The Hindu. Asked if it was mandatory to adhere to the circular, he said, “Schools should take steps based on the AMC circular.” 

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Printable version | Sep 19, 2022 4:42:33 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/ahmedabad-urdu-schools-in-a-fix-over-circular-on-saraswati-puja/article6815638.ece