It is strange that in a country where around 80% of the population declare themselves as belonging to Hindu religion, there is widespread feeling among a cross section of Hindus that the Hindu religion is discriminated in variety of ways by successive governments in India.
Though BJP, which is described as “Hindu nationalist party” by western media, is in power for more than four and half years now, such feeling of Hindu religion being discriminated persist.
Several instances can be readily pointed out to highlight such discrimination.
Takeover of Hindu temples
Several Hindu temples of great importance and history have been taken over by state governments and have been brought under the administrative control of the government. The income from the temples go to the government treasury. However, no churches or mosques or gurudwaras have been taken over by the government. It is said that churches, mosques etc. belong to the minority religions and therefore, they cannot be under government control. However, there are some states in India where Hindus are in minority and even in these states churches or mosques are not taken over by the government.
In Tamil Nadu, government appoints priests for Hindu temples and choose them for the job based on it’s own regulations. But, the government never interferes in the appointment of priests or in the qualification required for the priests in the case of churches, Mosques and Gurudwaras.
Cow slaughter issue
Hindus consider cow as a holy and sacred animal and have been worshiping cows historically for several centuries. Many Hindus think that cow slaughter should be prevented. When cows are taken to slaughter house by anyone, some Hindus protest and they are dubbed by the media as “cow vigilantes”
When some people try to prevent the cows being taken to slaughter house, they are criticized as law breakers and arrested. They are dubbed as Hindu extremists and the campaign against them become so strong that no government want to speak for the protesters against the cow slaughter move.
In the case of Islam religion , millions of innocent goats are being slaughtered at the time of Bakrid festival. No media or animal activists have spoken against this practice.
The latest episode with regard to the Lord Ayyappa temple in Sabarimala is a glaring example.
the Sabarimala temple in Kerala is one of the holiest of the temples in India. This temple of great importance observe some strict regulations of which one is the restriction on women in certain age group from visiting the temple. The restriction is not on girl children or elderly women.
This tradition of restricting the women’s entry in certain age group has been banned by Supreme Court terming the practice as discriminatory and not doing gender justice.
All over the world, traditional practices are followed over centuries ,since the devotees believe in such practices out of faith and irrespective of the fact whether they are logical and scientifically appropriate at the present time.
For example, in the case of Sikh religion, for entering Gurudwara, the devotees have to cover their head. In Islam religion women are not allowed to pray in the mosque along with men. In Christianity, there is discrimination between men and women in holding positions in the church. No woman can become a pope.
The Sabarimala temple in Kerala alone, which has lakhs of Hindu devotees, is being targeted by the so called “activists and reformists”
In the case of the Lord Ayyappa temple in Sabarimala in Kerala, restrictions do exist in the case of women of certain age group entering the temple. However, there are so many other temples for Lord Ayyappa in India and abroad, where women of all age groups are allowed free entry. Therefore, it should be recognized that there is no anti women sentiments in Lord Ayyappa temples.
It should be noted that the practice in the Lord Ayyappa temple in Sabarimala is not against women as such but only women in certain age group and therefore, it cannot be considered gender injustice in anyway. Entry of women are not banned for their entire life time. Women of all age group are free to visit and pray in any other Lord Ayyappa temple any where else in the world at any time.
Is it a case of appeasement of minorities?
Many wonder whether the government or the media would be daring enough to criticize any aspect of the faith of other religions. If they would do so ,perhaps, the reaction from the religious groups would be so strong that could even lead to violence. Such developments rarely take place when Hindu faith are questioned.
The main reason for the discriminatory approach of several political parties and government towards Hindu religion vis a vis other religions appear to be vote bank politics. It is very well known that in elections, almost the entire Christian community or Muslim community vote for a particular party en bloc as directed by the religious heads. This does not happen in the case of Hindus.
Therefore, the political parties always try to keep those belonging to minority religions in good humor and take particular care not to displease them in any way. On the other hand, the political parties believe that Hindu votes always get dissipated as there is no unified leadership for Hindus and there is considerable difference of views among Hindus and therefore, there is no particular need to appease those belonging to Hindu religion.
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