Maharashtra Temple News

Karnataka priests create fake websites in temple’s name, swindle Rs 20-crore donations
The Indian Express | 1 day ago
The Indian Express
1 day ago

A group of priests of the Devalaganapur temple in Karnataka’s Kalaburagi district allegedly created fake websites in the temple’s name and siphoned off crores of rupees in donations from devotees. Booked by police, they are yet to be traced.The temple located on the Gangapur river in Afzalpur taluk of north Karnataka attracts devotees not only from the across the state but also from neighbouring Maharashtra and Telangana. Sri Dattatreya is the deity of the temple.According to the police, the priests created about eight websites with names such as Dattatreya Devalay, Ganagapur Dattatreya temple, Shri Kshethra Dattatreya temple, which over the past four years accepted fees and donations to the tune of Rs 20 crore, all of which were diverted to their personal bank accounts. They charged Rs 10,000 – Rs 50,000 as fees for conducting various poojas and other rituals.The temple is under the control of the state’s Muzurai department and Kalaburagi deputy commissioner Yashwant Gurukar is the chairman of its development committee. The fraud was unearthed at a recent audit meeting chaired by Gurukar, who then directed executive officer Namdev Rathod to get a police case registered.A local resident said on the condition of anonymity that the priests were present in the town till the case was registered against them.Preliminary reports of a recent cyber forensic audit suggested that nearly 2,000 devotees had paid money through the fake websites, sources said, adding that individual priests would take care of devotees and gave their contact number on the receipt.The police also suspect the priests had swindled money from the temple’s donation boxes as well. “After the incident came to light, we checked the CCTV footage. On the day money from the donation boxes was counted, the CCTV cameras were either diverted or masked. Kalaburagi deputy commissioner Yashwant Gurukar has ordered the recovery of the money from the accused priests,” said a police officer.The temple’s official website, http://www.devalganagapur.com, has been taken down.

Karnataka priests create fake websites in temple’s name, swindle Rs 20-crore donations
Manoeuvres in politics will go on but governance shouldn’t stop: CM Uddhav Thackeray to bureaucrats
The Indian Express | 1 day ago
The Indian Express
1 day ago

Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Friday told the state administration that development works shouldn’t be held up due to the ongoing political crisis in the state. Thackeray on Friday held a virtual review meeting attended by divisional commissioners, district collectors, municipal commissioners and secretaries of government departments at the state secretariat.Speaking to the bureaucrats, he said that when took over as the chief minister two-and-a-half years ago, he had no experience of administration and the bureaucrats guided him. He added that while he did not know how long this political deadlock would continue, but the bureaucrats were always welcome at either Matoshree or Varsha bungalows.“Don’t hold up important development works related to welfare of people. Get in touch with me directly,” Thackeray said. He added, “There is always uncertainty in politics… Political manoeuvres will go on but governance shouldn’t stop. The administration should ensure that people’s day-to-day issues are resolved immediately.”A statement from the Chief Minister’s Office said that at the meeting, Thackeray reviewed the current Covid-19 situation in the state, sowing operations for kharif crops, availability of urea, disaster management preparedness and facilities for warkaris (devotees) at Pandharpur temple town for the upcoming ‘Ashadhi Ekadashi’ festival.WITH inputs from PTI

Manoeuvres in politics will go on but governance shouldn’t stop: CM Uddhav Thackeray to bureaucrats
Found in Renuka temple hundi: ₹1.1cr and an online gamer’s desperate plea
Times of India | 1 day ago
Times of India
1 day ago

Belagavi: The Goddess Renuka Yellamma Temple in Saundatti, among the 10 highest revenue earning shrines in Karnataka, has gathered in its hundi a generous Rs 1.13 crore and a letter from an online gamer who wanted divine intervention to strike after losing money in online gaming.“Bless me, deity, to win the money back which I lost in online games,” the devotee’s written prayer said.There were still shriller cries for other wishes and some attempts at bribing the goddess. One devotee declared that he had offered Rs 50,000 to punish those who had tried black magic against him. Another devotee wanted a male child. If the wish was granted, a silver chariot would be offered the next time.Apart from the Rs 1.13 crore that was offered in the last 45 days, the hundi also yielded gold worth Rs 22 lakh and silver worth Rs 3 lakh. Currency of foreign countries also popped out. UAE Dirham with the face values of 500, 100, 20 and 10 and Singapore dollars were offered by devotees.Lakhs of devotees visit the temple, constructed in the 16th century, especially on full moon days.Around 50% of devotees are from Maharashtra, and 40% are from north Karnataka. The remaining 10% come from other parts of Karnataka and neighbouring Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh. The temple is most revered for devadasis.The government has decided to develop the temple on the lines of the Kashi Vishwanath temple in Varanasi. Survey work is on for this.

Found in Renuka temple hundi: ₹1.1cr and an online gamer’s desperate plea
Secrecy Is Big In Hotel Where Shiv Sena Rebels Are Putting Up
Ndtv | 1 day ago
Ndtv
1 day ago

Guwahati: All eyes are fixed on a luxury hotel in the outskirts of Guwahati, from where Shiv Sena's Eknath Shinde and his coterie of MLAs are manoeuvering the fate of the Maharashtra government, but its tall gates are bolted tight from within and the happenings inside are shrouded in secrecy.The hotel is not making any fresh bookings for the next one week as ''we are fully occupied'', a hotel staff told PTI.Asked whether any booking can be made for any day after the next week, he said that he could comment on that.Even before the employee could be asked about the activities of the MLAs inside the hotel, he said, ''Please, do not question me about them. I cannot say anything related to them''.The hotel has 196 rooms and during an online search for bookings during the next few days, the response was: ''There are no available rooms for these dates''.Another hotel staff said that it is booked as the four-day Ambubachi Mela at the famed Kamakhya Temple atop the Nilachal Hills has begun.A huge posse of policemen has been posted in and around the hotel with senior police officers seen managing the security bandobast.Top police officials, too, remained tight-lipped about the guests inside the hotel and tight security arrangements.Media persons are camping outside the hotel since Wednesday when the Maharashtra politicians reached here but none have been allowed to go inside the hotel.The Congress staged a demonstration near the hotel during the day asking Shinde and other MLAs to leave the state which is reeling under devastating floods which have claimed 108 lives and affected a population of nearly 46 lakh.Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma earlier said there should not be any reason for controversy regarding their visit.He said, "We welcome all tourists to visit the state now as we need funds to deal with the devastating floods. Why should we turn away Goddess Lakshmi when most of our hotels are empty or have low occupancy?" Shinde and the other legislators have been staying at the hotel since Wednesday morning after they arrived from Surat by a chartered flight. They were received at the airport by BJP MP Pallab Lochan Das and legislator Sushanta Borgohain.The Maharashtra MLAs were driven to the hotel in three buses of the Assam State Transport Corporation amid tight security.PromotedListen to the latest songs, only on JioSaavn.comThe Shiv Sena-led government in Maharashtra is facing a crisis following the dissidence of a section of its MLA led by Shinde.(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

Secrecy Is Big In Hotel Where Shiv Sena Rebels Are Putting Up
After Char Dham And Ambubachi, Weather Forecast For Pandharpur's Waari Pilgrimage
India | 2 days ago
India
2 days ago

Mumbai: On the lines of the special pilgrimage forecast for the Char Dham Yatra in Uttarakhand, the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) has announced a special forecast for the annual ‘Waari’ pilgrimage in Maharashtra. IMD issues such a forecast for the duration of the pilgrimage, which is not only helpful for the pilgrims but also for the planners, administrators and disaster management personnel in view of the lakhs of people converging at a place over a short duration.Also Read - Triyuginarayan Temple in Uttarakhand: A Perfect Destination For Wedding in The HimalayasAnother recent example of special pilgrimage forecast by IMD was the one issued for Ambubachi Mela, the famous pilgrimage at Kamakhya temple in Guwahati, where thousands of devotees throng over a short duration from July 22 to 26 annually. Also Read - No Way We Will Go Back, Says Eknath Shinde As Shiv Sena Offers Olive Branch To Rebel MLAsWaari is a pilgrimage on foot wherein people walk with a ‘palkhi’ from Dehu and Alandi near Pune to Pandharpur – nearly 450 kms – in Solapur district, very near to the Karnataka border. Every year, thousands of devotees walk from the two places for the Waari to culminate at Pandharpur on Aashadhi Ekadashi that falls on July 10 this year. Over the years, people have started to travel in vehicles too, only adding to the crowds. On Aashadhi Ekadashi day, there are an estimated 12 lakh people in the small town of Pandharpur, that has a population of a little over one lakh. Also Read - Rhododendrons and Snow Leopards, Check Out These 5 Unexplored National Parks Of HimalayasThe presiding deity Viththal of Pandharpur has a wide fan following and hence, the Ashadhi Ekadashi waari witnesses participation from both Karnataka and border areas of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.“We started on Monday when the Tukaram Maharaj palkhi embarked from Dehu. Similarly, the Dnyaneshwar Maharaj palkhi embarked from Alandi on Tuesday. Both travel via Pune to reach together on July 10 at Pandharpur. We would be issuing a special forecast for this entire duration,” said K.S. Hosalikar, a senior meteorologist from IMD Pune.The forecast would be available on IMD Pune website for all to access. The IMD also works in tandem with the government agencies by providing direct inputs to them in view of the smooth management of Waari.

After Char Dham And Ambubachi, Weather Forecast For Pandharpur's Waari Pilgrimage
  • After two years, Warkaris set to mass for Pandharpur pilgrimage
  • The Indian Express

    The three police jurisdictions of Pune district have geared up for the Sant Tukaram and Sant Dnyaneshwar Palkhi processions which are taking place on a full scale after a gap of two years.The Pimpri Chinchwad, Pune City and Pune Rural police jurisdictions have chalked out plans that comprise heavy police deployment for crowd control, traffic diversions and various security measures for the Pandharpur Wari, the pivotal annual event for Warkari sect and a celebration which is key to Maharashtra’s cultural identity.The Palkhis or the procession of the palanquins carrying the Paduka or revered symbolic footwear of Sant Tukaram Maharaj and Sant Dnyaneshwar Maharaj, will start their three-week-long journeys on June 20 and June 21 from the temple towns of Dehu and Alandi and are slated to reach Pandharpur on July 10.Sant Tukaram Maharaj Palkhi is slated to embark on its journey to the pilgrimage centre at Pandharpur from the temple town of Dehu in Pune district on Monday. As per the tradition, the Tukaram Maharaj Palkhi will be halting at Inamdar Wada in Dehu at night and reach Akurdi in Pimpri Chinchwad on Tuesday. The Palkhi of Sant Dnyaneshwar Maharaj will begin its journey from Alandi on Tuesday. It will halt at Gandhi Wada in Alandi for the night.🚨 Limited Time Offer | Express Premium with ad-lite for just Rs 2/ day 👉🏽 Click here to subscribe 🚨Both processions would arrive in Pune city on Wednesday afternoon. The two Palkhis will rest in Pune on Thursday — Sant Tukaram Maharaj Palkhi at Nivdunga Vitthal Mandir and Dnyaneshwar Maharaj Palkhi at  the Palkhi Vithoba Mandir. On Friday morning, both processions will resume their journeys from Pune towards Pandharpur.These processions are accompanied by a large number of Warkaris and devotees from across Maharashtra and even outside who take this 21 day journey on foot, either in entirety or partially. The Warkaris have already flooded Alandi and Dehu. “This time, Warkaris, numbering over 3-5 lakhs, will head from Dehu to Pandharpur,” Nitin More, who heads the Sant Tukaram Maharaj Sansthan, Dehu, said.The Pune district administration and the police are also expecting a huge turnout as the Pandharpur Wari is happening without any restrictions for the first time after two years because of the pandemic.The two starting points of the Palkhis — Dehu and Alandi town — fall within the jurisdiction of Pimpri Chinchwad police. Ankush Shinde, police commissioner of Pimpri Chinchwad, said, “We have chalked out an elaborate plan for crowd control in and around the temples and on the routes of the Palkhis. Considering past incidents of theft and pickpocketing, dedicated teams have been deployed on these routes. As we have to close some roads for general traffic, arrangements have been made for traffic diversions through alternate routes. We are also deploying drone cameras for monitoring the passage of processions on their respective routes.”On Tuesday, the movement of heavy vehicles from Dehu Phata to Bhakti Shakti Chowk will be diverted via Dehu Phata to Katraj Bypass from 6 am. Traffic from Bhakti Shakti Chowk to Dehu Phata will be routed via Khandoba Mal, officials said.Joint Commissioner of Police for Pune City Police jurisdiction, Sandeep Karnik, said, “Around 4,000 officers and personnel will be deployed all along the routes and at places of halt for the Palkhis in Pune City. The Bomb Detection and Disposal Squad will be deployed for conducting checks. Quick response teams will also be on stand-by. Dedicated teams from the crime branch will be pressed into action to prevent cases of thefts, pickpocketing and chain snatching. Traffic diversions have been enforced in Pune City to ensure that the Palkhi routes are isolated from traffic and at same time commuters can use alternate routes.”

Lakhs of devotees reach Alandi with renewed enthusiasm for Ashadhi Wari
The Indian Express | 6 days ago
The Indian Express
6 days ago

Written by Vrinda Rawal and Sakshi RathiResting against a pillar at the Shree Sant Dnyaneshwar Maharaj Sanjeevan Samadhi Mandir in Alandi, the centre where pilgrims from across Maharashtra have gathered for the Ashadhi Wari, Nagnath Errapa, 74, quietly reads the Dnyaneshwari.“Reading the Dnyaneshwari can purify you and give you a new direction about life. Completing the book is like meeting God itself,” says Errapa.Errapa is one of the lakhs of warkaris or pilgrims who are undertaking the Ashadhi Wari after a gap of two years amid the coronavirus pandemic. The pilgrimage is said to be 800 years old, where members of the Warkari sect in Maharashtra visit the Vitthoba Temple at Pandharpur—the abode of Vitthal, an avatar of Krishna.The warkaris take out palkhis or processions dedicated to poet-saints from different parts of Maharashtra, of which those of Sant Dnyaneshwar from Alandi and Sant Tukaram Palkhi from Dehu are the largest and most significant. Devotees, mostly farmers, join the two palkhis in large numbers from Alandi and Dehu, the resting places or samadhis of the two saints, to travel to Pandharpur on foot. The journey takes 21 days to complete, and sees much fanfare all throughout.This year, the Sant Dnyaneshwar Maharaj Palkhi will leave from the Alandi temple on June 21, while the Sant Tukaram Maharaj Palkhi will leave on June 20. The Dnyaneshwar Palkhi will enter the city on June 22, with stoppages in Phulenagar and Palkhi Vitthoba Temple, Bhavanipeth in the afternoon and evening respectively. On the afternoon of June 24, it will stop at Hadapsar. Arrangements for traffic diversion have been made by the Pune Municipal Corporation.Chandrakala, a 50-year-old housewife from Parbhani, says, “This is my first wari, and I am very excited about it. I have been coming here for darshan for the last 20 years but could never join any dindi (pilgrim group) due to household responsibilities. Now, that my sons are married, I don’t want to wait for another year. The pandemic has told us that life is unpredictable. Before dying, I want to do the wari at least once.”The pandemic was a major departure from the centuries-old tradition as the state government scaled down the pilgrimage to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease. However, this year, the state government has allowed the pilgrimage on its full scale. A gap of two years means renewed enthusiasm among the warkaris, who are coming in greater numbers than the previous years.The Shree Dnyaneshwar Maharaj Sansthan Committee, which looks after the temple in Alandi, took note of it and made special arrangements for the pilgrims. “This year, we are estimating that there will be a 40-50 per cent increase in the number of pilgrims. Today, we are seeing a huge number of visitors to the temple. This is because the wari is happening after two years. There’s a lot of enthusiasm among the warkaris that they are joining the wari after two years,” says Umesh Bagde, media president of the trust.Yogesh Desai, the chief trustee of the temple, told the Indian Express about Wari Mitra, a new volunteer initiative started by them to guide lost warkaris back to the procession. The Wari Mitras will be positioned between Saswad and Wakri.“There have been some changes in the route due to an ongoing road-widening project. The warkaris too are coming after two years. People can easily lose their way in such a large crowd. Hence, we have taken the help of gram panchayats who will be providing us with 20-25 volunteers at each stop to help us implement the Wari Mitra initiative,” says Desai.“The volunteers will be situated at spots where the pilgrims are supposed to rest. Anyone who loses their way can approach them. Since these are locals, they will be able to guide the pilgrims back to the main procession. We will be giving them t-shirts, caps, and identity cards so that everyone knows whom to approach.”

Lakhs of devotees reach Alandi with renewed enthusiasm for Ashadhi Wari
Shetphal Village: Land of Snakes in Maharashtra That Has Humans And Cobras Under One Roof
India | 1 week ago
India
1 week ago

Shetphal Village: One of the many strong misconceptions about India held by the western world is that it is a place of snake charmers. While we may not entirely agree with that characterization, a visit to this small Maharashtra village may persuade us to disagree, at least in part. Every hamlet in India has its own traditions, colors, and story to tell, but Shetpal Village is most likely the strangest you’ve ever heard about. The one-of-a-kind hamlet is roughly 200 kilometers from Pune in Maharashtra’s Solapur district.Also Read - Agnipath Protests: Maharashtra Youth Congress Workers Detained For Staging Demonstration, Blocking TrafficEvery house has a snake in this village. The reptile creatures are everywhere in the town, and they’re treated as though they’re family. The snakes are not only adored but also given permanent residence here. Snakes, like any other family member, have the right to roam around the house. That’s exactly what happens in the privacy of one’s own house. These snakes are also allowed to move freely throughout the village, just like any other resident. Also Read - Maharashtra: Man, Son Held For Repeatedly Raping Teenage Niece From UPSnakes live in Shetphal and they will be found in every household. The snakes are treated with extra care and fed by the villagers. They’ll have a particular spot in the house. The number of snakes in the village outnumbers the human population. Children play with snakes, and no one has ever been bitten by one in the village. Also Read - At 4,255, Maharashtra Records Highest Daily COVID Cases Since Feb; Mumbai, Thane, Pune Worst-hit | 10 PointsIn this village, snakes and spirituality go hand in hand. Every residence has a separate place set out for the cobras, almost like a temple. This specific snake habitation is known as devasthanam, and people are so loyal to it that they make care to include a space for the snake while building a new home, according to Times of India Travel.Nobody knows how this level of comfort is achieved. And, if reports are to be believed, no snake bites have occurred. Would you like to check it out for yourself?

Shetphal Village: Land of Snakes in Maharashtra That Has Humans And Cobras Under One Roof
Mumbai Dug Up: As Metro work along Lady Jamshedji Road drags on, residents and commuters feel the pinch
The Indian Express | 1 week ago
The Indian Express
1 week ago

It’s been almost six years that a stretch between Mahim bus stop and Sitladevi temple on the Lady Jamshedji Road has been dug up for tunnelling work of the Mumbai Metro Line 3 and construction of Sitladevi Metro station. The barricades put up for carrying out the work have blocked more than half of the road which is causing major traffic congestion on the stretch, peak hours or not. A single bus entering the area forces vehicles to crawl and takes several minutes to cover the distance of just a few 100 metres. Not only commuters, local shopkeepers and residents too are having nightmares due to the never-ending work and traffic snarls on the stretch.Location: Lady Jamshedji Road, MahimDug-Up For: The construction of the Sitladevi Metro station in Mahim and tunnelling work of the Mumbai Metro Line 3 between Mahim and Sitladevi temple.Importance of project: Mumbai Metro Line 3, also known as Colaba-Bandra-Seepz Line, is a 33.5 km long underground Metro corridor running along Colaba-Bandra-SEEPZ. MML-3 will connect Mumbai’s key financial hubs. Once implemented, MML-3 will reduce traffic by about 35% or by 4.5 lakh vehicles, leading to decongestion of roads and reduction of travel time to 50 minutes from 100 minutes on the route.Implementing agency: Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (MMRCL), a joint venture of the governments of India and MaharashtraTotal cost of the project: While the initial cost was Rs 23,000 crore, it has now been revised to Rs 33,000 crore+Work started: 2016Initial deadline of completion of the stretch: 2021Revised deadline: First phase after mid-2024Reasons cited for delays: Due to pending civil, electric and station work on the stretch and the issue of Metro 3 car shed plot issue at Aarey and Kanjurmarg over which the state and central government are at loggerheads, along with the stalled work during Covid-19 lockdownImportance of the road: The Lady Jamshedji Road is a major road in central Mumbai that connects central Mumbai with the western suburbs and lakhs of motorists use the stretch to go back and forth from western suburbs of the city to areas in south and central Mumbai, especially Dadar. The barricading in the middle of the road has occupied over half of the road, creating a major bottleneck and space crunch. The ongoing work has left only one lane on each side of the road from where only one bus can pass at once and there is no parking space left. Problems caused by the project: Usman Shah, 39, a taxi driver who frequently drives in Mahim, said, “I have been seeing the work going on here for the past several days and whenever I have to pass from here during the day time, the speed slows down. It’s like we have to get stuck here. Even if one vehicle is stopped due to any reason on the stretch then the whole traffic on the road is halted. The authorities should wind up the work soon.”M Memon, 63, who runs an optical shop on the stretch for several decades, said, “It’s been over five years that the work is going on and it is a menace. Our business is suffering. There is no space outside our shop. The footpaths have also been narrowed down and the customers find it difficult to come to our shop. We have complained to many agencies, BMC, police and local public representatives. However, everyone tells us that it’s a government project. We understand that it is a government project but how long will it continue? Isn’t there any deadline for it?”Yasir Bohira, 26, a shopkeeper who sells household plastic items, said the work was creating a lot of issues for the shopkeepers of the area as well as for the customers. “Since the work started, we have lost customers who do window shopping and now we have to depend on our old and regular customers. However, they also face issues to reach the shop as there is no vehicle parking space on the road. Even we have to park our vehicles somewhere else and walk to the shop. Senior citizens cannot walk like that so they have stopped coming. Our business has been affected.”Rahil Shaikh, 38, who stays in the area says, “It’s difficult to get a taxi or cab and there is hardly any footpath for pedestrians. Apart from that, the noise and air pollution has increased in the area. The work is on at night as well and the machinery keeps moving, creating noise.”

Mumbai Dug Up: As Metro work along Lady Jamshedji Road drags on, residents and commuters feel the pinch
Maharashtra minister Aaditya Thackeray on first solo Ayodhya trip
Times of India | 1 week ago
Times of India
1 week ago

MUMBAI/AYODHYA: Maharashtra minister Aaditya Thackeray on Wednesday said CM Uddhav Thackeray will soon talk to Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath to seek land for constructing a Maharashtra Sadan in Ayodhya. Aaditya was in Ayodhya on Wednesday, where he took darshan of Ram Lalla on his first solo trip to the temple city. "We are here for darshan. This is our pilgrimage, not a political visit. I have not come here to do politics," Aaditya said. However, replying to a query on questioning of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi by the ED, he said Central agencies have become part of the election campaign. He said the Maharashtra government wanted to build a Sadan with over 100 rooms for devotees from Maharashtra. "CM Uddhav Thackeray has told me he is going to talk to CM Yogi Adityanath. Correspondence will be done asking for land for constructing Maharashtra Sadan in Ayodhya. Many devotees come here from Maharashtra. We want to make it a nice place for them," he said. Aaditya was accompanied by Shiv Sena leaders Sanjay Raut and Neelam Gorhe. He offered prayers at Ram Janmabhoomi, Hanumangarhi temple and met seers, including Hanumangarhi Mahant Gyan Das. His trip came ahead of his uncle, MNS chief Raj Thackeray's tour, which was deferred after BJP MP Brij Bhushan Singh opposed Raj's Ayodhya visit. Aaditya said the entire Sena family had come to Ayodhya. "The Sena's Hindutva is clean. Whatever we promise, we deliver, regardless of us winning or losing elections. We have come here for Lord Ram and Hanuman. I spoke to BJP MP Brij Bhushan Singh, he welcomed us in Ayodhya. Those who are welcoming us, we will take them along for construction of Maharashtra Sadan," he added. he said, "In 2018, I first came here with Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray. He then announced, 'pehle mandir phir sarkar' (first temple then government). Coincidentally, after the announcement, maybe something new happened; only after that, the court proceedings started, and within a year, the court ruling came."

Maharashtra minister Aaditya Thackeray on first solo Ayodhya trip
Aaditya in Ayodhya: ‘Here as a devotee of Ram, not for politics’
The Indian Express | 1 week ago
The Indian Express
1 week ago

On his maiden visit to Ayodhya after becoming a minister in the Maharashtra government, Shiv Sena leader Aaditya Thackeray on Wednesday said his visit should not be linked to politics as he had come to seek Lord Ram’s blessings.Expressing his wish to establish “Ram Rajya in order to serve people better”, the 32-year-old son of Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said his party has been associated with Ayodhya and Ram Temple movement with Shri Ram being in their hearts. “Ayodhya is the centre of faith in India. In 2018, we gave this slogan — first temple, then government. After Shiv Sena’s slogan, the way for the construction of the temple was cleared. Now, the Ram temple is being built on the orders of the Supreme Court… We are connected to this place, its people here, and Bhagwan Shri Ram is in our hearts… We have to establish Ram Rajya so that we could serve people better,” he said.“Our visit (to Ayodhya) is not related to any election. Also, it is not a political matter. For us, it is a matter of faith,” Thackeray, who was accompanied by party leaders Sanjay Raut and Eknath Shinde told mediapersons, before heading to Hanumangarhi to offer puja.The Thackeray scion’s visit to the temple town assumes significance as ally-turned-rival BJP has been accusing Shiv Sena of abandoning the Hindutva cause by joining hands with theCongress and NCP to form the government in Maharashtra. Also, Aaditya Thackeray’s visit comes days after Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief and his uncle, Raj Thackeray, cancelled his Ayodhya trip, citing health reasons. The MNS chief has also been accusing the Sena of abandoning the Hindutva cause.With the BJP taking credit for the construction of the Ram temple in Ayodhya, Aaditya said, “We (Shiv Sena) had demanded for a special law to build Ram temple but it did not happen in the Parliament. But after the Supreme Court’s decision, the temple is currently being built. We are happy and will take it ahead.”During his 2018 visit to Ayodhya, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray had taken on the Narendra Modi government over the delay in building Ram temple at the disputed site and sought a legislation or ordinance to build the temple.Aaditya Thackeray, meanwhile, said that there was “absolute clarity” in Shiv Sena’s Hindutva. Reciting a chaupai, Thackeray said that whatever promises his party makes in the elections, it meets them.Refusing to comment on Shiv Sena’s stand on the ongoing legal proceedings in Gyanvapi and Mathura temple cases, Aaditya said rejected reports that a section of priests in Ayodhya were opposed to his visit. “All the saints, priests and public of Ayodhya welcomed me. I’m visiting Ayodhya as a devotee and not for politics,” he said.On the Enforcement Directorate questioning Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, Aaditya said, “All the central agencies have become prachar sahitya (advertisement literature).”Later, Aaditya Thackeray held a meeting with party functionaries and took part in an ‘aarti’ on the banks of the Sarayu river. He arrived in Lucknow at around 11 am from where he reached Ayodhya by road. According to party officials, over 1,000 Shiv Sainiks reached the temple town during his visit.

Aaditya in Ayodhya: ‘Here as a devotee of Ram, not for politics’
  • "Not Political": Shiv Sena Leader Aaditya Thackeray On Ayodhya Visit
  • Ndtv

    Aaditya Thackeray said: "We will pray to Lord Rama to give us the strength to serve the people better".Ayodhya: Maharashtra minister and Shiv Sena leader Aaditya Thackeray, who on Wednesday paid a visit to Ayodhya, said his arrival at the temple town is not associated with politics but he went there to seek the blessings of Lord Ram.Aaditya Thackeray, who tried to stay clear of politics, however said that central agencies have turned into an advertisement literature. He was responding to a question on the Enforcement Directorate quizzing Congress leader Rahul Gandhi.His visit comes at a time when the BJP, Shiv Sena's former ally, has been questioning the party's commitment to Hindutva. Earlier, head of Maharashtra Navnirman Sena Raj Thackeray had announced his visit to Ayodhya on June 5, but cancelled it later."My visit to Ayodhya is no politics. I have come here to seek the blessings of Lord Ram," Thackeray told the media."Ayodhya is the centre of faith in India. In 2018, we gave this slogan - first temple, then government. After Shiv Sena's slogan, the way for the construction of the temple was cleared. Now, Ram temple is being built on the orders of the Supreme Court," he said."We will pray to Lord Rama to give us the strength to serve the people better," he said.Aaditya Thackeray said talks will be held with the Uttar Pradesh government to seek land in Ayodhya for establishing Maharashtra Sadan.On his first visit to Ayodhya, Aaditya Thackeray will also hold a meeting with party functionaries besides participating in an 'aarti' at the banks of River Sarayu later in the day.Aaditya Thackeray, son of Shiv Sena president and Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, arrived in Lucknow at around 11 am from where he reached Ayodhya by road.According to party officials, over 1,000 Shiv Sainiks reached the temple town during Aaditya Thackeray's visit. Senior party leaders Sanjay Raut and Eknath Shinde had reached here on Tuesday to oversee the arrangements for Aaditya Thackeray's visit.PromotedListen to the latest songs, only on JioSaavn.comHe refrained from making any comment on political developments. However, on persistent queries by the media about the Enforcement Directorate grilling Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, Aaditya Thackeray said, "All the central agencies have become prachar sahitya (advertisement literature)."(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

  • Aaditya Thackeray hits Ayodhya trail as Sena revs up BMC poll campaign
  • The Indian Express

    Aaditya Thackeray’s Wednesday visit to Ayodhya to offer prayers at the Ram Temple is principally meant to convey a political message to the Shiv Sena leaders and its rank and file in the run-up to the crucial Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) polls.Aaditya, the 31-year-old son of the Maharashtra Chief Minister and Sena president Uddhav Thackeray, is the state environment, tourism and protocol minister as well as the chief of Yuva Sena, the party’s youth wing.There seems to be a two-fold political objective behind Aaditya’s Ayodhya visit. First, it clearly signals that he is going to spearhead the Sena’s campaign in the upcoming BMC polls. The electoral fight for the country’s richest civic body with a budget of over Rs 40,000 crore, BMC, which the Sena has been ruling for many years, will be a litmus test for the ruling party.Secondly, besides seeking to showcase the Sena’s Hindutva credentials, the party leadership has taken a decision to move beyond its “Marathi Manoos” agenda within Maharashtra to reach out to North Indians, who make up about 20 per cent population of Mumbai.Officially, however, the Sena has been trying to downplay the politics behind Aaditya’s Ayodhya visit, maintaining that the “sole objective of his day-long visit to the temple town is religious”.The Sena’s rival, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), headed by Uddhav’s estranged cousin Raj Thackeray, however asks “if Aaditya’s Ayodhya visit is not political why are Sena leaders hurling barbs and taunts at Raj”. MNS leader Sandeep Deshpande said, “Why are they (Sena) saying it requires courage to visit Ayodhya. And they are not backtracking from such remarks. If their purpose was religious it should have ended on a religious note.”The Sena finalised Aaditya’s Ayodhya tour after Raj announced his decision to visit Ayodhya’s Ram Temple on June 5. The Sena scheduled Aaditya’s trip to Ayodhya for June 10, which was later rescheduled for June 15.रामनगर अयोध्या से ढेर सारा आशीर्वाद मिला और कुछ अविस्मरणीय यादें मिली। आशा है कि बांके बिहारी जी मुझे जल्द ही वापस बुलाएँगे। हरे कृष्ण! 🙏 @india_iskcon pic.twitter.com/LZxID29Gpr— Aaditya Thackeray (@AUThackeray) June 15, 2022Subsequently, Raj, however, cancelled his Ayodhya visit on the ground that he would need a break for his medical treatment. This came days after the BJP’s UP strongman and MP, Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, threatened to stop him from entering Ayodhya, demanding that the MNS chief should first tender an unconditional apology for his remarks and his workers’ alleged atrocities against North Indians in the past.Raj’s recent bids to raise his pitch on Hindutva, seeking a ban on the use of loudspeakers for azaan at mosques, followed by announcement of his Ayodhya trip, led to alarm bells ringing in the Sena. Encouraged by the BJP, the MNS has been making attempts to emerge as an alternative to the Sena, as they have attacked the latter for having gone “soft” on Hindutva after joining hands with the NCP and the Congress for formation of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government in the sate.The Sena leadership clearly planned Aaditya’s Ayodhya tour to reaffirm the party’s Hindutva credentials and counter Raj’s Hindutva drive. Ahead of the BMC polls, it thereby sought to woo North Indians too, whose vote it considers to be critical in its bid to clinch it again.Going after the MNS, the Sena had recently also put up posters across Maharashtra to point to a “distinction between the Sena’s real Hindutva and MNS’s fake Hindutva”.Senior Sena MP Sanjay Raut, who had led a team of party leaders to Ayodhya earlier to oversee arrangements for Aaditya’s visit, has sought to brush aside the politics behind it, saying “Our faith in Lord Ram Temple in Ayodhya is unquestionable. It is a religious tour. Don’t read politics in it.”A senior Sena minister said, “Our core agendas remain unchanged. But when you are in government, priorities change. We are bound by a Common Minimum Programme (CMP) mutually agreed by the three MVA partners,” pointing out that any attempt to deviate from the CMP would cause trouble to their coalition government.The Sena has also been seeking to highlight its role in the Ram Janmabhoomi movement for the construction of a temple at the Babri Masjid site in Ayodhya. Last month, Uddhav Thackeray had taken potshots at the senior BJP leader and Leader of the Opposition, Devendra Fadnavis, over the latter’s claims that he was also part of the Ayodhya movement.Fadnavis, however, again projected his role in the Ayodhya movement at a conclave of North Indians in Mumbai later.On its part, the Sena plans to use the images of Aaditya worshipping at the under-construction Ram Temple and taking part in various rituals at the Sarayu river to sharpen its Hindutva pitch and boost its outreach to the people hailing from the Hindi heartland.Seizing on the Aaditya’s tour, the Sena members have been harping on the point that “We showed courage in visiting Ayodhya”.Hitting back, Deshpande asked, “What is so courageous about the Ayodhya visit?” He also alleged that the Sena along with the NCP had plotted to thwart Raj’s Ayodhya trip with the help of Brij Bhusan Sharan Singh.Ayodhya is not a new destination for Aaditya. He had earlier visited the temple town along with his father in November 2018 and March 2020. In November 2018, the Sena chief visited Ayodhya to reiterate the party’s commitment to the Ram Temple. Months after becoming the CM, in March 2020, Uddhav again visited Ayodhya, when he offered prayers and donated Rs one crore for construction of the temple.

  • Aaditya Thackeray's Ayodhya Visit: Message From Sena To Rivals And Ranks
  • Ndtv

    The event is being seen as a passing of the baton to Aaditya ThackerayMumbai: Maharashtra Cabinet Minister and Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray's son Aaditya will be in Ayodhya today, where he will address a press conference.Aaditya Thackeray will offer prayers at the Ram temple in Ayodhya at 5:30 this evening. Later he will also perform the Saryu Aarti following which he will return to Lucknow and head back to Mumbai. Mr Thackeray will also visit the Hanuman Garhi temple and Laxman Killa in Ayodhya.Aaditya Thackeray's Ayodhya visit assumes significance as it is the first solo visit of the 32-year-old whom the Shiv Sena projects as its future leader.The event is being seen as a passing of the baton to Aaditya Thackeray who was brought into politics by Sena patriarch Bal Thackeray. Earlier, Aaditya had visited Ayodhya along with his father Uddhav Thackeray.The Shiv Sena has made this event a show of strength with several top leaders in Ayodhya drumming up support for him. Top Sena leaders like Sanjay Raut and Eknath Shinde have been in Ayodhya since yesterday.The Sena, which has been accused of moving away from Hindutva by the BJP, has hit back saying the BJP's Hindutva is fake. Mr Thackeray's visit to Ayodhya is being interpreted as the Shiv Sena's commitment to the Hindutva ideology as it accuses the BJP of double standards and using proxies like Raj Thackeray to target it.The announcement for this trip was made around the same time when Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) Chief Raj Thackeray proclaimed that he would visit Ayodhya amidst the Hanuman Chalisa and Azaan row in Maharashtra. Later, Raj Thackeray's trip was cancelled on 'health grounds' amidst opposition from Brijbhushan Singh, a BJP MP who had demanded an apology from Raj Thackeray for targeting migrants from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. However, Brijbhushan Singh has welcomed Aaditya Thackeray to Ayodhya.The Shiv Sena has arranged two trains from Mumbai for party members to travel to Ayodhya. About 8,000 Shiv Sainiks are expected to be in Ayodhya from Mumbai and Thane alone.Maharashtra over the past few months has seen a bitter battle over 'Hindutva' politics resulting in several parties announcing trips to Ayodhya.While the BJP has been targeting the Sena for dumping it and stitching together an alliance with ideological oppositesNationalist Congress Party and Congress, Raj Thackeray has also jumped onto the 'Hindutva' bandwagon with an aim to cut into the Sena's votes.PromotedListen to the latest songs, only on JioSaavn.comRaj Thackeray has emulated the style of Bal Thackeray in terms of speech for many years, but recently in his public rallies, he also emulated the Sena patriarch's attire.Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has hit back at Raj Thackeray using a Bollywood reference. "Sanjay Dutt started seeing Gandhi and started doing Gandhigiri, today there is a fellow in Maharashtra who sees Balasaheb and thinks he is Balasaheb by wearing a shawl," said Mr Thackeray.

  • Aaditya Thackeray’s first solo visit to Ayodhya today, show of strength by Sena workers on the cards
  • The Indian Express

    Shiv Sena Minister Aaditya Thackeray will visit Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh on Wednesday. This will be his first solo visit to Ayodhya.Earlier, Aaditya had visited Ayodhya along with his father, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray. This will be the first time he will be leading a visit to Ayodhya and the party is expecting a large mobilisation of its cadre.Sena MP Sanjay Raut reached Ayodhya on Tuesday to prepare for Aaditya’s visit.A senior Sena functionary said, “Sena workers have already gathered in Ayodhya ahead of Thackeray’s visit and there is a lot of enthusiasm among the cadre for the visit. There will be a grand show of strength. Thousands of party workers from all over Maharashtra have reached Ayodhya by buses, trains and fights…”.The visit comes when the Shiv Sena is being targeted by Opposition BJP and MNS, who have accused the party of not following the ideology of Hindutva.Aaditya’s visit was announced days after MNS chief Raj Thackeray announced that he will visit the city on June 5. Raj Thackeray’s visit, however, was cancelled after Brijbhushan Singh, the BJP MP from Gonda in Uttar Pradesh, opposed his visit and demanded an apology from him for allegedly humiliating North Indians in 2009.Earlier, Aaditya’s visit was scheduled on June 10, however, it was postponed due to the Rajya Sabha polls in Maharashtra.As per the itinerary of Aaditya’s visit, besides visiting the Ram temple, he will hold a press conference and perform aarti at the banks of Sarayu river. He will also visit the Hanuman Garhi temple and Laxman Killa before culminating his one-day trip.

"Insult To Maharashtra": Sharad Pawar's Party Targets Centre Over PM Event
Ndtv | 1 week ago
Ndtv
1 week ago

NCP's Supriya Sule said the incident was "very hurtful, shocking and distressing".Mumbai: NCP leader Supriya Sule on Tuesday said Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar was "denied permission" by the PMO to speak in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a temple inauguration event in Dehu near Pune city, and dubbed it as an insult to the state.The prime minister inaugurated a shila (rock) temple at the Sant Tukaram Maharaj Mandir dedicated to the 17th-century saint in Dehu.Devendra Fadnavis, the Leader of the Opposition in the state assembly, spoke just before PM Modi delivered his speech at the programme.Talking to reporters in Amravati, Ms Sule, a Lok Sabha MP, said Mr Pawar, a senior NCP leader, had requested the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) to allow him to speak at the event.She said as the Guardian Minister of Pune district and Deputy Chief Minister, Mr Pawar had received Mr Modi at the Lohegaon airport on his arrival."Dada's (Ajit Pawar) office had requested that he be allowed to speak because he is the Deputy CM and Pune district guardian minister. But the PMO declined permission to Dada to give his speech," Ms Sule said, adding she was sharing this information after verifying it from Mr Pawar's office."This is an insult to Maharashtra. If our Deputy CM is on the stage then it is his right to speak," said the Member of Parliament from Baramati in the Pune district."Whether to allow Fadnavis to speak is their internal matter but Ajit Pawar should have been allowed to speak at the Dehu event," the NCP leader said.She said that the incident was "very hurtful, shocking and distressing".The visuals of the function showed that after the compere requested the prime minister to speak at the event, the latter asked something to Ajit Pawar who was sitting beside him on the stage and then moved to address the gathering."Leader of the Opposition Devendra Fadnavis was given an opportunity to speak at the Prime minister's event at Dehu, but the state's deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar was not allowed to speak. This is an insult to Maharashtra," Ms Sule later tweeted.NCP legislator Amol Mitkari, too, concurred with Ms Sule's views.In the Amravati district, Ms Sule and NCP workers staged a protest and raised slogans against the Central government over the issue.Speaking on the controversy, Nitin More, the chief trustee of the temple trust, said they had no role into it."We had no role into who will be speaking at the PM's event. It was a protocol received from Delhi which was followed," he said.However, the Maharashtra unit of the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP hit back at the NCP for its criticism over the issue and "maligning" the image of PM Modi, and pointed out that the Dehu event was a private gathering and not a government programme where strict norms of protocol are applicable.The BJP chose its official account on Facebook to counter the NCP's tirade and its claim of insult to Maharashtra.PromotedListen to the latest songs, only on JioSaavn.comThe BJP FB post said, "The Dehu event was a private one; hence no protocol can be applicable here. BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis was there at the function in Raj Bhavan (in Mumbai for inauguration of Gallery of Revolutionaries by the PM) where he did not speak but state chief minister spoke." "Those who intend to malign the image of PM Modi, relentlessly can not be cured at all. BJP does not give importance to personal pride before saints and great traditions," the party said.(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

"Insult To Maharashtra": Sharad Pawar's Party Targets Centre Over PM Event
PM: India has held open, healthy discussions on difficult social topics, need to strengthen this
The Indian Express | 1 week ago
The Indian Express
1 week ago

Amid growing unrest across the country, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday said that while open and healthy discussions on most difficult social topics has been a practice in India, it needs to be strengthened.Speaking at the Dwishatabdi Matohsav (200th anniversary) of Mumbai Samachar, a Gujarati daily, at Bandra-Kurla Complex in Mumbai, the PM, while lauding the role played by the media during the Covid-19 pandemic, said that while the media has the right to criticise and point out shortcomings of the government, it has an equal responsibility to report positive news.“For thousands of years, we have conducted healthy debate, healthy criticism and right reasoning as a part of the social system. We have open and healthy discussions on very difficult social topics. This has been the practice in India, which we have to strengthen. This country is a country of rich tradition that is carried forward through the medium of debates and discussions,” he added.On a day-long trip to Maharashtra, the PM also inaugurated the Jal Bhushan Building and Gallery of Revolutionaries at Raj Bhavan in Mumbai.Maintaining that indifference is shown towards the unsung heroes of the country, he added that this has continued for a very long time. He recited how freedom fighter Shyamji Krishna Varma’s ashes had to wait for a long time to reach India, till he brought them back.The function was attended by Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari and Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray among others.Amid ongoing bitter relation between the Shiv Sena and the BJP in Maharashtra, this is the first time in over four months that Thackeray shared the dais with Modi. The CM had skipped some of the PM’s previous visits to the city and the state.Addressing the inauguration function, the PM said that Maharashtra has inspired the country in many fields and there is a very rich legacy of social reformers from Sant Tukaram Maharaj to Babasaheb Ambedkar.He added that from Maharashtra, Dhyaneshawar Maharaj, Sant Namdev, Sant Ramdas and Sant Chokhamela have infused energy into the country. “If we talk of Swarajya, the lives of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and his son Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj strengthen the sense of patriotism in every Indian even today.”The PM noted the inclusion of ancient values and memories of freedom struggle in the architecture of Raj Bhavan and praised the spirit of turning Raj Bhavan into Lok Bhavan.“Knowingly or unknowingly, we limit India’s independence to a few incidents, whereas India’s independence involved the tapasya of countless people and the collective impact of many incidents at the local level was national. The means were different but the resolution was the same.”He noted that irrespective of social, family or ideological roles, the place of the movement, whether within the country or abroad, the goal was one – complete independence for India.The PM recalled the contribution of Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak, the Chapekar brothers, Vasudev Balwant Phadke and madam Bhikaji Cama. He also pointed out that the freedom struggle spanned locally as well globally. He cited the Gadar Party, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose-led Azad Hind Fauj and India House of Shyamji Krishna Varma as examples of the global scale of the freedom struggle. “This spirit of from local to global is the basis of our Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan,” he added.“The role of Veer Savarkar in India’s freedom movement was immense. One must go to Andaman and Nicobar Islands to see the struggle and atrocities inflicted in prison. Students should be taken to such places to draw inspiration from our freedom fighters,” the PM said.He added that while Mumbai is the city of dreams, there are many such cities in Maharashtra that are going to be the growth centres of the country in the 21st century. “With this thinking, on one hand, the infrastructure of Mumbai is being modernised and at the same time, modern facilities are being increased in other cities as well.”The PM released a stamp on the occasion. “While lending voice to pre and post freedom movement, Mumbai Samachar has always retained its credibility. The write-ups appeared were often referred and cited by even Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Patel,” he said.Referring to the power of regional languages, the PM said, “Under the influence of foreigners, when the city became Bombay, even then Mumbai Samachar did not leave its local connect and connect with the roots. It retained its identity as Mumbai Samachar… It is not just a newspaper but a heritage, expression of India.”Praising the Parsi community for their contribution, the PM said, a 1,000-year-old civilisation has shown how Maa Bharati embraces whoever comes to this nation. “Everybody has opportunities to flourish in her lap. What better example than the Parsi community? The community’s contribution in freedom movement to Navnirman Bharat is huge. It is one of the smallest in terms of population – micro community. But in terms of contribution and service, it is huge.”He added that every institution has a particular role to play for the betterment of the society, be it the media or the legislature.Earlier in the day, inaugurating the shila (rock) temple at the existing Sant Tukaram Maharaj Temple at Dehu near Pune, the PM said that “wari” — the annual pilgrimage undertaken by ‘warkaris’ or devotees — has inspired the country’s forward march. He said his government was ensuring that India’s “vikas” (development) and “virasat” (heritage) move ahead together.“It is our responsibility to keep our ancient identity and traditions alive at a time when modern technology and infrastructure are becoming synonymous with the country’s development,” he added while addressing the gathering.Reciting abhangs of Sant Tukaram which drew thunderous applause from the ‘warkaris,’ the Prime Minister pointed out that even Veer Savarkar, while in jail, used his handcuffs as instrument and sang ‘abhangs’. “When Savarkar was jailed during the freedom struggle, he used his handcuffs as musical instrument and sang the devotional poetry of Sant Tukaram,” Modi said.“Through his devotional poetry, Sant Tukaram described class discrimination as the biggest sin. It is this message that the wari seeks to spread among the masses. The country is also drawing inspiration from the message sent out by wari by following the principle of ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas’,” he said.Stating that India was one of the oldest living civilizations in the world, the Prime Minister said, “If the credit for this goes to anyone, it is to the saint tradition and sages of India… India is eternal because it is the land of saints. In every era, some great soul has descended to give direction to our country and society.”

PM: India has held open, healthy discussions on difficult social topics, need to strengthen this
  • Need to strengthen culture of healthy debate and open discussions: PM Modi
  • Times of India

    MUMBAI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday said we need to strengthen the culture of healthy debates and open discussions that have been a hallmark of India over the years. Modi was on a day's visit to Maharashtra during which he inaugurated a shila (rock) temple at Dehu, Jal Bhushan building and Gallery of Revolutionaries at Mumbai's Raj Bhavan and attended the bicentennial celebrations of Gujarati newspaper Mumbai Samachar. Amid acrimonious relations between the Shiv Sena and BJP in Maharashtra, Modi and chief minister Uddhav Thackeray shared the dais at two of these events, after over four months. Over the last thousands of years, Indians have spoken openly about the most difficult of the topics and made correct logic an integral part of the society, he said, speaking at an event to mark the 200th anniversary of Mumbai Samachar in suburban Bandra. Modi said “debate and discussions” have helped the country over the years and we need to “strengthen” the culture. He said every institution has a particular role to play for the betterment of the society, be it the media or the legislature. The Indian media has both criticised the policies and also stood for national interest in a constructive manner, the Prime Minister said, expressing hope that the media will continue to play its role in the next 25 years which his government has called as the “Azadi ka Amrut Kaal”. Speaking after inaugurating an underground 'Gallery of Revolutionaries' museum dedicated to the luminaries of the freedom struggle at the Raj Bhavan, Modi said Maharashtra has inspired the country in many areas ranging from social revolutions to self-rule. The PM delved into history and highlighted the work done by a number of eminent personalities with roots in Maharashtra, from warrior king Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj to chief Constitution maker Babasaheb Ambedkar, and spoke effusively about their contributions. The gallery has come up in a British-era bunker, discovered in the Raj Bhavan campus in south Mumbai in August 2016 during the tenure of the then-Governor C Vidyasagar Rao. Remembering revolutionary Shyamji Krishna Varma, who founded the India House in London and stayed abroad, Modi said the freedom fighter's only wish was that his ashes be brought to an independent India. Modi said in 2003, after 73 years of Varma's death, he got the opportunity to bring his ashes to India. The PM also inaugurated Jal Bhushan, the renovated residence of the Maharashtra Governor. Jal Bhushan has been the official residence of the Governor of Maharashtra since 1885. Upon completing its lifespan, it was demolished and a new building was sanctioned in its place. Earlier in the day, Modi addressed a gathering of warkaris (devotees undertaking the pilgrimage to Lord Vitthal temple at Pandharpur), after inaugurating a shila (rock) temple at the Sant Tukaram Maharaj Mandir dedicated to the 17th-century saint at Dehu near Pune. Modi said Hindutva ideologue Veer Savarkar sang abhangs (devotional poetry in praise of Lord Vitthal) of Sant Tukaram while in jail during India's freedom struggle. “While in jail, Veer Savarkar used his handcuffs like the chipli (a musical instrument) of Sant Tukaram and sang his abhangs,” Modi said. Modi also interacted with the warkaris during his visit, which comes ahead of the annual 'wari' pilgrimage which will commence on June 20 from Dehu. The PM said Sant Tukaram used to say that discrimination among humans is a big sin. "This message is not only important for Bhagwat bhakti, but also rastra bhakti (patriotism) and samaj bhakti (service to society). With these messages, our 'warkari' brothers and sisters set on the journey to Pandharpur every year," he said referring to 'wari'. With this message, the country is moving forward with the concept of 'sabka sath, sabka vikas, sabka vishwas and sabka prayas', he said. The PM said that along the lines of 'warkaris', the country is also progressing with the empowerment of women. "The wari has been a symbol of equal opportunities as women warkaris also walk side by side with their male counterparts with the same zeal and zest. Similarly, the government is also providing the benefits of welfare schemes to everyone without discrimination," he said. Modi said a true saint's identity is that he strives for the welfare of the last person and this is the resolve of our 'antyoday' yojana. The PM said various yatras in the country are the sources of power for the social and spiritual progress. "With these yatras, we keep the concept of 'Ek Bharat Shresth Bharat' alive. These yatras connect the diversity of our country. To strengthen the unity of our country, we should keep our ancient identity alive," he added. The PM also said technology and infrastructure are becoming synonymous with India's progress, "we are ensuring that heritage and development go hand in hand". Referring to scriptures, he said 'satsang' of sants is the rarest privilege in human life.

Modi's Maharashtra visit sees several run-ins, Aaditya Thackeray briefly stopped by SPG
The Economic Times | 1 week ago
The Economic Times
1 week ago

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Maharashtra saw several run-ins between the Maharashtra government and the centre over issues related to protocol. Maharashtra Environment and Tourism Minister Aaditya Thackeray was briefly stopped by the Special Protection Group (SPG) meant for protection of the Prime Minister from welcoming the latter.The issue arose when Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray along with his son Aaditya Thackeray had gone to welcome the Prime Minister at INS Shikra, in which the Prime Minister was arriving in Mumbai from Pune.Sources said that the SPG stopped Aaditya from entering the venue as his name was not there in the list of VIP’s meant to be near the Prime Minister. An irked Chief Minister Thackeray is said to have then stepped in and told the SPG that Aaditya was not at the venue as his son but he was there as per protocol as Aaditya was also the protocol Minister and was supposed to be at such events.Following this very brief interlude, the Chief Minister along with Aaditya welcomed the Prime Minister at INS Shikra. Maharashtra Chief Minister’s office did not want to comment on the issue. This incident, however, was not the only breach of protocol during the PM’s visit.Earlier in the day, the Prime Minister visit to Dehu, Pune for the inauguration of the Sant Tukaram Maharaj Temple also witnessed a controversy as the NCP claimed that Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar who was on the dais with the Prime Minister was not allowed to speak in the function as per protocol.Once the function got over, NCP leader Supriya Sule claimed that it was an insult to the entire state that Ajit was not allowed to speak. “He (Ajit Pawar) was the Guardian Minister. I feel it was incorrect, he is the Deputy Chief Minister, it is quite shocking, unfortunate, this is an insult to Maharashtra as the state’s Deputy Chief Minister was not able to speak,” said Sule.She added, “I have got the information from the Deputy Chief Minister’s office and I came to know that when preparations were being made for the programme, he had expressed his wish to make a speech, however the Prime Minister’s office did not give permission for it. This is very painful for the state.”NCP leaders said that it was a violation of protocol as opposition leader Devendra Fadnavis was allowed to speak in the same function but Ajit Pawar was not. BJP leaders like Pravin Darekar claimed that when Prime Minister Narendra Modi was asked to speak at the function, he had invited Pawar to make a speech but the latter declined.

Modi's Maharashtra visit sees several run-ins, Aaditya Thackeray briefly stopped by SPG
From Nupur unrest and bulldozer politics to AIMPLB shun-TV pitch to waiting for Rahul
The Indian Express | 1 week ago
The Indian Express
1 week ago

As street protests erupted in towns and cities across the country amid unrest over derogatory references made to the Prophet by ex-BJP spokespersons, Nupur Sharma and Naveen Jindal, which led to violence, police action and casualties in some states, their coverage and analysis dominated the news and opinion pages of the leading Urdu dailies. The contours of the raging row and its domestic and international dimensions were dissected and examined. Their headlines and editorials also tracked a wide array of various social, political and economic issues.InquilabIn its editorial on June 12, headlined “Aisa bohraan aur aisi khamoshi (this crisis and such a silence)”, the New Delhi edition of Inquilab writes that the BJP government has to deal with inflation, unemployment and economic problems as well as the Nupur-Jindal row, as both could hurt it if they spin out of control. “On one side is the issue of these continuing problems and on the other is the anguish of Indian citizens who believe in the country’s pluralistic sarva dharma sambhava ethos besides many countries’ protests,” it says. Following the chorus of outrage from the Islamic world, especially the Gulf countries, the government activated its diplomatic missions there asking them to highlight that India is run by a secular Constitution and that it has always been a multi-cultural country where people of all faiths have co-existed for thousands of years, the daily writes, adding that the government believes the crisis would be resolved diplomatically. It says that besides suspending Nupur and expelling Jindal from the party and filing some FIRs, the saffron dispensation has not taken any action. Highlighting that “no important government or party functionary has made any statement on the row so far,” the editorial states that “their silence, albeit not unprecedented, is bewildering” as this is the time to reach out to the minorities and apply the healing touch. “In the face of such a crisis, their silence is painful and unfortunate,” it says.The daily’s editorial on June 10 focuses on the international repercussions of the row, stating that it has severely dented India’s global image, especially in Arab countries, and that the Narendra Modi government can no longer afford to remain silent on the issue. It says the Modi government must clamp down on hate speech within and outside the BJP ranks and take necessary domestic measures while taking these countries into confidence.Referring to a recent interview of former ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Oman and the UAE, Talmiz Ahmad, with Karan Thapar on The Wire, the daily writes that Ahmad has pointed out India “faces a very serious crisis” with regard to the Islamic world due to this row for three reasons. First, the veteran diplomat told Thapar, the editorial notes, that there are 80 lakh Indian workers in the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) countries, including 30 lakh in Saudi Arabia, whose annual remittances to India add up to $35 billion, which is one-third of the country’s annual oil import bill. About 4 crore people in the country depend on these remittances from the Gulf nations. The second point made by Ahmad, the daily says, is India’s energy dependency on the Gulf countries. He said 40% of India’s oil comes from them, of which Saudi Arabia accounts for 18%. Similarly, 40% of India’s gas requirement is imported from Qatar. The third reason cited by Ahmad, the edit notes, is India’s trade ties with these countries, which soared from $33 billion in 2000-01 to $121 billion in 2018-19. These countries are also dependent on imports of many items from India, but another major area of concern could be the recruitment of Indians there, done mainly by private companies, as a fallout of the row, the daily writes quoting Ahmad.“There are some other issues. For instance, six Arab countries have given their top awards to PM Modi. The UAE has also honoured the PM by clearing a temple project. Many Arabs come to India for medical treatment instead of going to Europe. All these things also cannot be ignored,” the editorial says.Roznama Rashtriya SaharaThe Kolkata edition of Roznama Rashtriya Sahara on June 11 carried a front-page report on the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB)’s move appealing to Islamic scholars and intellectuals “not to participate in TV debates whose sole intention is to mock and insult Islam and Muslims”. The report refers to a joint statement issued by AIMPLB president Maulana Syed Mohammad Rabey Hasani Nadwi and its vice-presidents, which said that by participating in such TV channel discussions, they “instead of being able to do any service to Islam and Muslims, become indirectly the reason for their own ridicule besides insult of Islam and Muslims”. The report quotes the statement as saying that “The intention of these programmes is not to reach any conclusion through constructive discourse, but to ridicule and defame Islam and Muslims. To prove their impartiality, these TV channels include some Muslim faces in their debates… If we boycott such programmes and channels, it will not only impact their TRPs adversely, but will also foil their designs”.In its editorial on June 8, the daily flags the West Bengal Cabinet’s decision to appoint Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee as the Chancellor of all state-run universities in place of Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar and even replace the Governor with the state education minister as the Visitor of private universities, highlighting the protracted tussle between the two top constitutional functionaries in Bengal. It writes that the Governor-CM face-off is severely hurting the education sector with universities facing an “administrative vacuum” and students’ studies getting hit. It says the Governor had in December last year declared the appointment of the Vice-Chancellors (VCs) in 24 state universities by the Banerjee government as “illegal” as it was done without his approval as the Chancellor. Dhankhar then sought to reverse this order. He also convened a meeting of VCs but no one showed up, following which he called for action against them. He has faced students’ protests in Calcutta University and Jadavpur University too. The daily says that in the wake of similar Governor-state government conflicts in other Opposition-ruled states, such Chancellor move has also been made by Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Telangana in the “larger interest of students”. “In this backdrop, the Bengal government’s decision may be contrary to the traditional mechanism but it cannot be called improper. However, it would have been better if the Chancellor’s job was entrusted to an expert educationist rather than the CM in order to free education from all political interferences. A politician’s appointment in the Chancellor’s post could not be in the interest of education whether it is the Centre-appointed Governor or the elected CM as they cannot be free from power politics. Only an expert educationist can be a guarantor of high educational standards,” it says.SiasatCommenting on the rollout of bulldozers in UP following street violence, the Hyderabad-based daily Siasat, in an editorial on June 12, headlined “Uttar Pradesh mein phir bulldozer ka istemal (Fresh use of bulldozers in UP)”, charges that the Yogi Adityanath government is bent on “subverting legal and constitutional rights” of citizens, especially Muslims, and resorting to “various illegal means” to intimidate them in order to curb their protests. Referring to the stir against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in the past, it says the UP government had then issued recovery notices to the protesters asking them to pay damages caused during protests. This was only halted following the courts’ intervention, it says, adding that the bulldozers are again out in UP after Muslims took to streets to protest the Nupur-Jindal row. “The authorities’ claim that the houses being bulldozed are illegal is laughable. It is just being used as an alibi to create fear among Muslims and thwart the protesters. If these houses were built illegally then action should also be taken against authorities responsible for it, who remained mute till date,” the editorial says, expressing concern that other BJP-ruled states are also following suit. “A bulldozer has been turned into a symbol of the politics of fear,” the daily says, stressing that the victims should take legal recourse and move courts and human rights panels to challenge it.Urdu TimesIn its editorial on June 10, the Mumbai-based daily Urdu Times writes that Maharashtra CM and Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray, while recently addressing his party’s rally at Aurangabad, spelt out the Sena’s views and policies clarifying that “Sena’s Hindutva is not anti-Muslim”. “Defining Hindutva, Uddhav said it does not teach hate… He also said Muslims have been sacrificing their lives for the country since Independence, but it has not been acknowledged,” the daily notes, adding that the Sena chief’s statement was however “belated” as it came three years after he took the state’s reins. “Now it is to be seen when does Congress leader Rahul Gandhi appreciate the Muslim community’s sacrifices and make a similar statement… he has not done it even though the community has always stood by the Congress party,” it says. Underlining that communal harmony is imperative for ensuring a peaceful and developed Maharashtra, it says even the BJP will realise this as there has been enough of “politics of Hindu-Muslim, temple-mosque and hate”, cautioning however that “it is a vicious cycle”. “If the Sena wishes that its tiger never becomes old… it has to take Muslims on board,” the edit says.

From Nupur unrest and bulldozer politics to AIMPLB shun-TV pitch to waiting for Rahul
Ashadhi Wari: Maharashtra Emergency Medical Services to deploy ambulances for pilgrimage
The Indian Express | 1 week ago
The Indian Express
1 week ago

The Maharashtra Emergency Medical Services (MEMS) will deploy 75 ambulances during the Pandharpur Yatra, also known as Pandharpur Wari, which will begin on June 20 after a hiatus of two years, as part of preparedness and to avoid any untoward incident on the travel route.Due to Covid-19-related restrictions, the annual palkhi or palanquin procession was not allowed for two years. Now, the three-week-long walk from Dehu to Pandharpur which covers nearly 450 km will commence on June 20. During this annual event, pilgrims (warkaris) follow the palkhi of Sant Tukaram to the Vithoba Temple at Pandharpur.Sant Dnyaneshwar Palkhi will begin from Alandi on June 21 and the yatra will end on Ashadi Ekadashi on July 10.The palkhi carries the padukas or footprints of Sant Tukaram and Sant Dnyaneshwar and is a popular pilgrimage that has seen the avid participation of people from all walks of life.Dr Dnyaneshwar Shelke, chief operating officer at BVG Maharashtra Emergency Medical Services, said that 15 ambulances will be deployed at Pandharpur before, during and after the Ashadhi Ekadashi. Field Control Ambulance will be available with both Palkhis for full routes until Pandharpur, said Dr Shelke, adding that they have coordinated with the Palkhi Sansthan managements at Dehu, Alandi and other places.“We have set up two MEMS-108 Control Rooms at Pandharpur and district wise 53 ambulances have been earmarked for Pune, six for Satara and 16 for Solapur. First responder training plans have been given to police officials, temple staff and other volunteers,” said Dr Shelke.All ambulances during the Ashadhi Wari 22 will serve Covid-19 and other patients and according to Dr Shelke those who are symptomatic will be transferred to government facilities with adequate precaution. Each ambulance will be fumigated for 30 minutes after handing over the patient. Dr Shelke said, “From 2014-2019 we have assisted at least 3,583 patients via our emergency services during the annual pilgrimage.”

Ashadhi Wari: Maharashtra Emergency Medical Services to deploy ambulances for pilgrimage
PM Modi Maharashtra Visit Today: Traffic Curbs Announced Near Mumbai's Bandra Kurla Complex; Check Details Here
India | 1 week ago
India
1 week ago

Mumbai: Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to visit Maharashtra on Tuesday (June 14) to inaugurate the Jal Bhushan Building and Gallery of Revolutionaries in Mumbai and Jagatguru Shrisant Tukaram Maharaj Temple in Pune. The prime minister will participate in ‘Dwishatabdi Mahotsav’ (200th-anniversary celebrations) of ‘Mumbai Samachar’ at the Bandra Kurla Complex, a business district in the suburbs. And, in view of the Prime Minister’s visit, some roads leading to the BKC in Mumbai will remain closed while traffic on some roads will be diverted, said a Mumbai Traffic Police official.Also Read - Agnipath Recruitment Scheme Likely To Be Announced Today, 3 Services Chiefs To Announce DetailsEntry of vehicles of all kinds will not be allowed on the BKC connector and through the Kurla Razzak Junction, MTNL junction, Platina junction, the Trident junction towards the Jio World Centre, and the American Consulate, he said. Also Read - PM Modi to Unveil Underground ‘Gallery of Revolutionaries’ in Raj BhavanVehicular traffic on some routes will be diverted. All these traffic regulations will remain in force between 4 PM and 8 PM (on Tuesday), the official said. Besides the heightened security at the BKC, additional police personnel will be deployed on various roads, the official added. Also Read - PM Modi To Lay Foundation Stone Of Projects Worth Rs 80,000 Crore In Lucknow On FridayThe Prime Minister at around 1:45 pm will inaugurate Jagatguru Shrisant Tukaram Maharaj Temple in Dehu, Pune.“Sant Tukaram was a Warkari saint and poet, famously known for Abhanga devotional poetry and community-oriented worship through spiritual songs known as Kirtans. He lived in Dehu. A Shila Mandir was built after his demise, but it was not formally structured as a Temple. It has been rebuilt in stone masonry with 36 peaks, and also carries an idol of Sant Tukaram,” said the PMO.At around 4:15 pm, PM Modi will inaugurate the Jal Bhushan Building and Gallery of Revolutionaries at Raj Bhawan in Mumbai. Jal Bhushan has been the official residence of the Governor of Maharashtra since 1885. Upon completing its lifespan, it was demolished and a new building was sanctioned in its place. The foundation stone for the new building was laid by President Ram Nath Kovind in August 2019.“All distinctive features of the old building have been preserved in the newly constructed building,” the statement reads.In 2016, the then Governor of Maharashtra, Vidyasagar Rao, had found a bunker in Raj Bhawan. It had earlier been used by Britishers as secret storage for arms and ammunition. The bunker was renovated in 2019.The Gallery has been developed in the bunker as a one of its kind museums, to commemorate the contributions of freedom fighters and revolutionaries of Maharashtra. It offers tributes to the contributions of Vasudev Balwant Phadke, the Chaphekar brothers, Savarkar brothers, Madam Bhikaji Cama, V B Gogate, Naval Mutiny in 1946, among others.Thereafter, at around 6 pm, the Prime Minister will participate in Dwishatabdi Mahotsav of Mumbai Samachar at Bandra Kurla Complex in Mumbai.The printing of Mumbai Samachar as a weekly was started on July 1, 1822, by Fardunjee Marzbanji. It, later on, became a daily in 1832. The newspaper has been published continuously for 200 years. To commemorate this unique feat, a postal stamp will also be released on the occasion.

PM Modi Maharashtra Visit Today: Traffic Curbs Announced Near Mumbai's Bandra Kurla Complex; Check Details Here
Maharashtra: Warkari organisations pin hopes on PM Narendra Modi for Indrayani river’s rejuvenation
Times of India | 1 week ago
Times of India
1 week ago

PUNE: Members of warkari (a pilgrim sect) organisations in the temple towns of Dehu and Alandi are hopeful that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will announce a 'Namami Gange'-like project for the development of Indrayani river during his visit on Tuesday. "We will discuss the Indrayani river development plan during our interaction with the Prime Minister on Tuesday. The ghat areas of the river should be developed to provide necessary facilities to the warkaris in Dehu and Alandi," Sanjay More, one of the trustees of the Jagadguru Shri Sant Tukaram Maharaj Dehu Trust, told TOI on Monday. In 2008, the warkari organisations and the temple trustees had staged a 'bhajan' protest outside the Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) seeking measures to prevent the release of industrial waste into the river in the Kudalwadi and Chikhali areas. The PCMC, however, did little to address the issue, they alleged. Ajit Kulkarni, a former chief trustee of the Sant Dnyaneshwar Maharaj temple, said, "The Centre has improved the annual palkhi procession route to Pandharpur in Solapur district. The government also needs to construct appropriate infrastructure for the warkaris to rest along the route. Besides, the state and central governments can construct the ghats at Dehu and Alandi on the lines of Haridwar and Rishikesh in Uttarakhand." Trustees of the Dehu trust said they have set up a pandal on 5-acre land in the Dehu Road cantonment limit for the PM's function. "We expect to see a large gathering of warkaris from across the state. The trust will provided them food and parking facilities," Nitin More, the chief trustee of the Dehu trust, said. After inaugurating the temple on the bank of the Indrayani river, the PM will go to the pandal site, which is about 2km away, More said. The Pimpri Chinchwad police commissionerate has restricted attendees from carrying purses, bags, water bottles, electronic gadgets or remotely operated keys of vehicles, deputy commissioner of police (traffic) Anand Bhoite said, adding, "People should also reach the function venue by 1pm with valid identity proof."

Maharashtra: Warkari organisations pin hopes on PM Narendra Modi for Indrayani river’s rejuvenation
The history of sun worship in India — a diminishing cult
The Indian Express | 1 week ago
The Indian Express
1 week ago

In India, Sun worship possibly started in the Neolithic period. Images of the Sun can be seen in a rock shelter at Odisha’s Sundargarh district. This rock shelter is located at around 200 feet above a forest road. The mural can be seen towards the centre of the wall and the images averaging 20-25 centimetres in diameter are well defined with red ochre tones. The circular representations of Sun form two circles; the images have straight strokes (like sunrays) at intervals and around the outer circle. Though assigning a definite date to the rock shelter painting is difficult, it is irrefutably an evidence of the antiquity of Sun worship in India. The rising Sun can be also seen in rock shelters near Raigarh and at Sitakhardi in Chambal valley. Besides, encircled Sun is depicted on Neolithic pottery found at Piklihal in Karnataka.The earliest representations of the Sun god riding a chariot can be seen on the railings of the Mahabodhi temple in Bihar’s Bodhgaya (2nd century BC), in Maharashtra’s Bhaja Caves (1st century BC), and at Khandagiri caves (1st century) in Odisha. The carvings of the Sun god at Khandagiri are reminiscent of that at Bodh Gaya. The Sun rides one wheeled chariot drawn by four horses. The god is attended by a female figure on either side. In his right hand, he holds a lotus and in his left he holds the reins. On the right corner there is a demon of darkness in a flying pose.Rayed disc is also seen on the coins of Panchala-Mitra (150 BC-50 BC). The coins of Bhanumitra and Suryamitra have solar discs on the reverse. The Bharhut medallion (2nd century BC), having a human bust depicting the Sun, and the Shunga period terracotta figures from Chandraketugarh in West Bengal show that the cult was in existence by 1st century BC. In a 2nd century relief found near Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh, the Sun god rides a chariot drawn by four horses. The significance of the sculpture lies in the fact that it is on a pillar and an indication that there may have been a tradition of a Suryadhwaj or pillar dedicated to the Sun god in ancient shrines.Most religions need patronage of the political class and traders to survive and expand. The Sun cult, too, found patronage among the ruling communities, many of whom associated themselves with the deity. For instance, Pushyamitra, the Shunga ruler, has been taken by many as a Sun worshiper. The Vardhan dynasty of Thaneswar in modern Haryana was a devotee of the Sun, as is evident by the epithet paramadityabhakta applied to three ancestors of Harshavardhan in the Sonepat copper plate inscription. Though Harsha himself was a Shaiva and later inclined towards Buddhism, he did not forsake his ancestral deity; in the religious assembly attended by Hiuen Tsang, the image of the Sun god was installed along with Buddha and Shiva.Pratihara kings Rambhadra and Vinayakapala appear to have been Sun worshippers too. We get a sense of royal patronage to the cult in various inscriptions preserved in museums. The Indore copper plate inscription of Gupta ruler Skandagupta, for instance, displays preference for the solar sect. The Mandasore stone inscription of Kumaragupta I refers to the construction of a Sun temple by a guild of weavers at Dasapur in central India. The Gwalior inscription of Hun ruler Mihirkula invokes the Sun as the dispeller of darkness. As per the Pratapgarh inscription of Mahendrapala II (10th century), his feudatory Indraraja Chahamana built a Sun temple, naming the deity after himself as ‘Indradityadeva’. Paramara, Gahadavala, Gurjar and Valabhis of Kathiawar gave grants to Sun temples. Copper plates of Avantivarman II refer to gifts by Chalukya rulers in the 9th century to a Sun temple named Tarunaditya. Chalukya ruler of Gujarat Siddharaj is said to have built a Sun temple. In Bengal, there is reference in the copper plates of Kesavasena of the Sena dynasty (12th century) regarding patronage towards Sun cult. In Konkan, Bhoja II is believed to have given land for Kasheli’s Kanakaditya Sun temple.The tradition continued in the medieval period, with Rajput rulers associating themselves with the deity and the mythical SuryavanshaWhile images of the Sun god seem to have come into existence one or two centuries before the Current Era, it was only in the 5th century that religious texts started mentioning details pertaining to idols of Surya. As per the Brihat Samhita, Surya should be shown with two hands and wearing a beautiful crown. Vishnudharmottara Upapurana (written during the Gupta period), on the other hand, states that Surya should be shown with four hands; flowers in two hands, a staff in the third, and in the fourth holding writing equipment such as palm leaf and pen and, thereby, depicting him as the lord of both action and knowledge. Surya’s charioteer Arun is to be shown as seated. Two goddesses stand on either side of Surya, they are Usha and Pratyusha representing dawn and dusk, respectively. They are shown to be shooting arrows to dispel darkness. In some images, Surya stands flanked by his two consorts, Sanjya and Chhaya.The Brihat Samhita also states that the god’s feet should be covered, he should wear earrings, necklace, high boots and a waist girdle like the Persian Sun god. In fact, during the early centuries of the Common Era, Surya’s image in northern part of the country was similar to those found in ancient Persia. Matsya Purana (200-500 CE) says that the weakening of lustre by Vishwakarma also weakened the Sun’s speed and, hence, he started wearing long boots so that no one could see his feet that had slowed down. Surya as a deity is also present in Nepal’s temples.In Odisha, besides the world famous Konark temple, shrines dedicated to the deity are also found in Suvarnapur and inside the Lingaraj temple at Bhubaneswar. Surya as Biranchinarayan is the main deity in two temples – at Palia near Bhadrak and at Ganjam district’s Buguda. The Buguda temple, renovated by King Srikara Bhanjadev in 1790, has exquisite wood carvings on its ceilings and 46 pillars. The temple faces west and is called the ‘wooden Konark’.

The history of sun worship in India — a diminishing cult
In photos: A wrap of what happened in Pune from June 6 to 10
The Indian Express | 1 week ago
The Indian Express
1 week ago

On 6 June, the Pune city unit of Shiv Sena protested against what it said was the central government’s failed efforts to protect Kashmiri Pandits. Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said, “We are closely monitoring the situation now and are in talks with Kashmiri pandits. I reiterate that we will do all possible for the pandits and will not leave them alone.”The two-day Sugar Conclave organised by Vasantdada Sugar Institute in Pune saw the sugar industry deliberate about the various issues facing the sector. In a show of political bonhomie, former Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar praised Union cabinet minister Nitin Gadkari as the voice of Maharashtra’s sugarcane growers in the Centre. Waste pickers of the ‘Kagad Kach Patra Kashtakari Panchayat’ and a number of representatives of various progressive organisations lead by Dr. Baba Adhav protested at District Collectorate on June 7 against the killings of two waste pickers by a street vendor and demanded immediate action against the culprits. The Maharashtra State Board of Secondary and Higher Secondary Education declared the Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) Class XII examination results on June 8, with the state recording an overall pass percentage of 94.22 per cent, a considerable decline compared to last year when it recorded the highest-ever pass percentage of 99.63 per cent.  Moderate rain had lashed parts of Pune on June 10, bringing in much-needed relief. The southwest monsoon further advanced into the city on June 11. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate a ‘shila’ (rock) temple dedicated to poet-saint Sant Tukaram around 1.30 pm on June 14 and will also address a crowd in proximity to the temple. The 10-member team which carried out the silver polishing work of the temple premises and the chariot included eight Muslim artisans in their early twenties. “Ever since the news of PM Modi coming to Dehu for the first time came to us, our team of artisans have been wanting to do something special for him yet again as we have previously too designed for him,” said Girish Murudkar, who along with his artisans has designed a ‘designer Tukaram pagdi’ and Uparne or shawl for the prime minister. Speaking at the inauguration of an electric two-wheeler plant of Chetak Technology at Akurdi in Pune, Bajaj Auto CEO Rajeev Bajaj called startups manufacturing electric two-wheelers “upstarts”, and blamed them for the recent fire incidents. He said they had no business to be in the space. With Covid-19 cases rising once again, Pune Municipal Corporation health chief said that the city is adequately prepared. Meanwhile, Omicron sub-variant BA.5 was detected in a 37-years-old fully vaccinated man.

In photos: A wrap of what happened in Pune from June 6 to 10
Artisans give ‘shining touches’ to Sant Tukaram Maharaj temple
The Indian Express | 1 week ago
The Indian Express
1 week ago

TWO DAYS ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Dehu on June 14, the existing Sant Tukaram Maharaj temple is shining bright and is all decked up to offer a grand welcome to the PM. The Prime Minister will inaugurate a ‘shila’ (rock) temple dedicated to poet-saint Sant Tukaram around 1.30 pm on Tuesday and will also address a crowd in proximity to the temple. The ‘shila’ temple is located within the premises of the main temple.“The silver polishing work of the chariot, which will carry the palanquin to the temple town of Pandharpur, has been completed. And inside the temple premises, the sanctum sanctorum, walls and pillars which are covered in silver have also been polished thoroughly,” Nitin More, who heads the Shri Sant Tukaram Maharaj Sansthan, told The Indian Express on Sunday.And in the 10-member team which carried out the silver polishing work of the temple premises and the chariot included eight Muslims artisans in their early twenties. All of them have been born and brought up in Pune. And all of them seemed to have carried out the silver polishing as “something close to our heart” and “a matter of seva….” Kushal Varma, who owns Ghanshyam gold shop in Pimpri, has been given the contract for the silver polishing work of the temple premises besides the chariot and ‘palkhi.’🚨 Limited Time Offer | Express Premium with ad-lite for just Rs 2/ day 👉🏽 Click here to subscribe 🚨“We have been doing the work for the past 6-7 years. We don’t charge a single paisa for the silver polishing work. Our team includes eight Muslim artisans who are all skilled and hard working. They do the allotted work with lot of enthusiasm and with keen sense of interest,” he said.The silver polishing, said Varma, is carried out as the silver coating gets oxidised due to exposure to air, pollution and water. “We use chemicals, tamarind, lemon and brushes among other things to polish the silver, remove the dark spots and make it look bright and beautiful,” he said. The work was carried out over two days. “The artisans worked relentlessly for 12 hours each day and without complaining about being tired and exhausted,” Varma added.Kamar Attar (31), one of the artisans, said, “This is not the first time we have carried out the silver polishing work of the entire temple premises as well as the chariot and palanquins. There was a lull during Covid for two years but now we are back. For putting in the hard work, we don’t charge anything. But the temple provides us material required to carry out the polishing.”Attar said no one objected to them carrying out the polishing work. “No, there was no objection to us being Muslims. Everyone knows who we are. And we do it on our own as a ‘seva’ towards Sant Tukaram Maharaj. It gives us immense happiness. We believe the God is one no matter which religion you belong to,” he said.Umar Attar, another artisan, said, “Our grandparents are from Pandharpur, so you can understand how much the Dehu temple matters to us…We have carried out the silver polishing work not only in Dehu but also in Pandharpur and at Dutt Mandir in Pune, the famous Ranjangaon Mandir and several other temples in Maharashtra.”Umar said, “We don’t believe in caste or religion. We do the silver polishing work in temple as it comes from our heart. After a two year gap, we enjoyed doing the work in Dehu and in the end, it gave us a sense of satisfaction and joy. We will keep doing the ‘seva’ whenever we are called,” a view echoed by others.Meanwhile, the temple administration said they will present a special ‘headgear’ to the Prime Minister. “The Prime Minister will be honoured with a designer Tukaram pagdi and a shawl on the occasion,” said Nitin More.

Artisans give ‘shining touches’ to Sant Tukaram Maharaj temple
  • Explained: The Sant Tukaram temple and its significance
  • The Indian Express

    On Tuesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the Sant Tukaram Shila Mandir in the temple town of Dehu in Pune district. Shila refers to a rock that is currently on the Dehu Sansthan temple premises, and that for centuries has been the starting point of Wari, the annual pilgrimage to Pandharpur.The Shila MandirThe Bhakti saint Sant Tukaram had sat on this piece of rock for 13 continuous days when challenged about the authenticity of the Abhyangs he had written. Nitin Maharaj More, president of the Jagatguru Sant Tukaram Maharaj Sansthan Dehu, said that prior to this, the saint had immersed his entire work in the Indrayani river; the work miraculously reappeared after 13 days, proving their authenticity. “The very rock where Sant Tukaram Maharaj sat for 13 days is pious and a place of pilgrimage for the Warkari sect,” More said.On the Dehu Sansthan temple premises, the rock used to be covered by a silver cast with an image of Sant Tukaram, and devotees would pay obesiance. In 2008, the silver mask was stolen, and found on the banks of the Indrayani after a few days. The Sansthan decided to replace the silver covering with an image of Sant Tukaram Maharaj on the Shila, with a temple housing both. “This is the temple the Prime Minister will inaugurate on Tuesday,” he said.The Warkari sectSant Tukaram and his work are central to the Warkari sect spread across Maharashtra. His message about a casteless society and his denial of rituals had led to a social movement. Sant Tukaram is credited with starting the Wari pilgrimage.The Wari sees lakhs of devotees congregating in the temple towns of Dehu and Alandi to accompany the padukas of Sant Tukaram and Sant Dyaneshwar respectively as they start for Pandharpur. Participants finish their sowing before they set off. The pilgrims reach Pandharpur on the day of Ekadashi with the Chief Minister performing the mahapuja.The pilgrimage is being resumed after a gap of two years.Significance of visitThis will be Modi’s first visit to the temple. Traditionally, the Warkari sect has been courted by all political parties. Various influential leaders of the sect had taken a stance on various issues but steered away from politics directly. Former President Prathibha Patil had visited the temple in 2009, and Modi would be the first PM to visit the temple in the current years.Modi’s visit comes ahead of elections to various local bodies this year. Ever since the NCP-Shiv-Sena-BJP came to power, the BJP has been trying to get back. Of the three bypolls held since 2019, BJP has won just one while the ruling alliance have won two.The newly created Dehu Nagar Panchayat is ruled by the NCP.

In Gujarat’s tribal heartland, BJP & Sangh march out of step
The Indian Express | 1 week ago
The Indian Express
1 week ago

The dismissal of a tribal BJP MLA from a temple trust in south Gujarat’s Dang district has revealed a faultline between the party and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)-backed organisation in the state’s Adivasi heartland.The Shabri Seva Samiti, which controls the Shabri Dham temple, is headed by Swami Aseemanand who was among the accused in the Mecca Masjid, Samjhauta Express and Ajmer Dargah bombing cases. He has been acquitted of all the charges. Assemanand leads the RSS’s Vanvasi Kalyan Parishad and lives near the temple.On June 8, BJP MLA Vijay Patel who represents Dang, a 100 per cent tribal constituency, was removed from the Samiti “because a photo that went viral showed him standing with BJP leaders, including two Christian leaders identified as Jagdish Gavit and BJP general secretary Rajesh Gamit, near the idols of Sabrimata and Lord Ram in the Shabri Dham temple in Subir on June 6”, the Samiti’s member Kishor Gavit told The Indian Express. Both Jagdish Gavit, who is the husband of BJP district panchayat vice-president Nirmala Gavit, and Rajesh Gamit belong to Adivasi communities.This discord between the BJP and the Sangh-backed temple trust comes at a time when the ruling party is going all out to reach out to Adivasis — they constitute 14 per cent of the population that lives in areas along the eastern part of the state, stretching from north to south Gujarat — in the run-up to the state elections. Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed a large public meeting in Navsari district’s Khudvel village on Friday where he praised the culture of the state’s tribal communities and inaugurated several development projects.But Kishor Gavit said, “The objective of the Samiti is to stop religious conversion of tribal Hindus to Christianity and bring back those converted back to Hinduism. Vijay Patel knows it very well as he worked with us on this agenda and now his act of standing with a group of BJP leaders, including Christians, near idols in the temple, is unacceptable.”The Trust member said the organisation decided to expel the MLA “by passing a resolution at a meeting chaired by Swami Aseemanand at the temple premises” as he had “acted against the principle of our Samiti”.According to Patel, the two Christian BJP leaders were part of a group of functionaries accompanying former Assembly Speaker and BJP MLA Ganpat Vasava on a political tour of Dang. “On the last day, I joined Vasava and other BJP leaders on their tour when we went to Shabrimata temple at Shabri Dham,” Patel told The Indian Express, adding, “I have no grudges and accept the decision taken by the Samiti. But they should have sought an explanation from me before taking such a decision.”While the BJP is trying to reach out to Adivasis after protests by tribal communities forced the state government to scrap the Par Tapi Narmada river-linking project last month, a right-wing organisation with links to the Sangh is campaigning to delist tribals who have converted to Christianity from Scheduled Tribes (ST) list. The Jan Jati Suraksha Samiti of Dang last month held two public meetings in Ahwa town. One such meeting was attended by, among others, BJP women’s wing district president Sumanben Davli and RSS south Gujarat sah karyavahak Vasant Gamit, who is the vice-principal of Vyara college in Tapi district.In his speech, Gamit said, “Those Hindu tribals who converted to Christianity or Islam will not remain tribals and should not get the benefit of government schemes and they should be delisted. They follow Christianity and Islam but on birth certificates they show themselves as Hindu. We will demand that the government pass a law for the removal of those converted tribals from the ST category. They should not get government benefits and reservation.”The videos of the speeches from these events alarmed Dang’s Christian community and its leaders, under the umbrella of the Samast Khristi Samaj, Bharat, met Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel and state BJP president CR Paatil in Gandhinagar on June 2. In a memorandum handed to the two leaders, the delegation accused some religious outfits of spreading false information in Dang and Tapi districts that Hindu tribals who had converted to Christianity would be delisted. The delegation’s members told Patel that such rallies and campaigns “made them fear for their lives”.Both the CM and the state BJP chief assured the delegation that the rights of Christian tribals would remain intact and the government would not entertain any proposals of the sort being made by the right-wing outfits.Former Dang district president of the BJP and Gujarat Tribal Development Corporation’s director Baburao Chaurya (52) said the ruling party’s agenda was to work for everyone irrespective of their caste, creed, and religion. “Christian tribals are turning towards the BJP and we have seen the results of the 2020 by-elections,” he went on to say. “It is because our workers have reached out to them and we have given them tickets for the taluka panchayat and district panchayat presidents’ posts and they won. There are some people who are against such steps, but we don’t give importance to them. Due to our work, we get support from them and this helps us in the elections.”The district of Dang, which is on the Gujarat-Maharashtra border, has a 40 per cent Christian population. Patel was elected to the Assembly from Dang in a by-election in 2020 after incumbent Congress MLA Mangal Gavit resigned and joined the BJP. During the bypoll campaign, Ganpat Vasava, who represents Surat’s Mangrol seat in the Assembly, held meetings with tribal Christians to seek support for Patel’s candidature. Tribal Christian voters in Dang have traditionally chosen the Congress over the BJP. In the south Gujarat districts of Valsad, Dang, Tapi, Navsari, and Surat there are 11 Assembly seats reserved for STs of which the BJP currently holds seven and the Congress four. Congress MLA Punaji Gamit from the constituency of Vyara in Tapi is the lone Christian in the Gujarat Assembly.

In Gujarat’s tribal heartland, BJP & Sangh march out of step
Maha: Ahead of PM’s Dehu visit, access of devotees to sanctum of Lord Vitthal temple restricted
Times of India | 2 weeks ago
Times of India
2 weeks ago

PUNE: Ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Jagatguru Shrisant Tukaram Maharaj Temple in Pune district of Maharashtra on June 14, the temple trust has decided against allowing devotees inside the sanctum sanctorum of the main Lord Vithtal temple on the same premises till Tuesday evening. Devotees, however, can take darshan from the 'kirtan mandap' of Lord Vitthal's temple. The trust has taken this decision for the cleaning and upkeep of the temple ahead of the PM's visit, an official said on Sunday. "Since the cleaning work inside the sanctum sanctorum is going on, we have decided not to allow devotees inside the garbhagriha of the (Lord Vitthal) temple. Devotees can take darshan from the kirtan mandap of the temple," said Nitin More, chief trustee of the temple. He added that the entrance to the sanctum sanctorum will be restricted for devotees from Sunday till June 14 evening. As per the Prime Minister's Office, Modi will inaugurate Jagatguru Shrisant Tukaram Maharaj Temple around 1:45 PM on Tuesday. Sant Tukaram was a Warkari saint and poet, famously known for Abhanga devotional poetry and community-oriented worship through spiritual songs known as 'kirtans'. He lived in Dehu. A Shila Mandir was built after his demise, but it was not formally structured like a temple, the statement said. It has been rebuilt in stone masonry with 36 peaks, and also carries an idol of Sant Tukaram.

Maha: Ahead of PM’s Dehu visit, access of devotees to sanctum of Lord Vitthal temple restricted
Pune: PM Modi to inaugurate Sant Tukaram temple on June 14, security tightened
The Indian Express | 2 weeks ago
The Indian Express
2 weeks ago

Elaborate security arrangements have been put in place for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s scheduled visit to the temple town of Dehu in Pune on Tuesday. The entry of the devotees into the Sant Tukaram temple will be allowed in a restricted manner on Sunday and Monday and it will be barred on Tuesday, the trustees said.Senior Pimpri-Chinchwad police officials said that as part of preparations for the ceremony, the top brass of Maharashtra Police visited the temple. In consultation with the concerned central security formations, a multilayered security cover has been put in place, officials said. At the time of PM Modi’s visit, a significant police force will be deployed to avoid any untoward incident, they said.The trustees of Sant Tukaram Maharaj Sansthan had earlier announced that the temple would remain closed from Sunday owing to the prime minister’s visit. The trustees, however, said that for Sunday and Monday, the entry of devotees would be allowed in a restricted manner. Trustees said that display screens are being put up at various places for devotees for ‘darshan’.PM Modi will inaugurate the Sant Tukaram Shila Mandir on Tuesday. Shila refers to a rock that is currently on the Dehu Sansthan temple premises, and it has been for centuries the starting point of Wari, the annual pilgrimage to Pandharpur.Sant Tukaram and his work are central to the Warkari sect spread across Maharashtra. His message about a casteless society and his denial of rituals had led to a social movement.

Pune: PM Modi to inaugurate Sant Tukaram temple on June 14, security tightened