Don't give garba a religious colour

It could be aptly termed one of the biggest ironies of recent times.

While a tourism promo featuring Amitabh Bachchan invites the world to partake in Gujarat’s ‘khushboo’ by visiting the state to enjoy garba and dandiya during Navratri, a handful of Hindu organisations in the state and elsewhere have passed a shocking diktat about how Muslims will not be allowed to attend the celebrations this year because these radical groups claim it is a religious festival.

These organisations have also raised the bogey of ‘love jihad’. According to them, young Muslim men might attend the celebrations only to eye young Hindu women, lure them with the promise of love and later convert them to Islam.

Some mandals even claimed that they would be checking identity proofs of people arriving to enjoy garba or dandiya , in a bid to identify Muslims. This is horrific and the diktat must be opposed vehemently.

It also shows gross disrespect towards women. The diktat assumes that women are dumb-witted and will be easily lured by those with the ulterior motive of converting them. Such an assumption is derogatory. The diktat is not only discriminatory, but is also a ‘hate tactic’ that will cleave the two communities further.

With this, whether the order is practiced or not, India’s secular image takes a beating. To tell a section of the society that they cannot enjoy garba or dandiya, on the basis of their religion, is deplorable.

Another thought is that those issuing and imposing such diktats are only doing it to hit the headlines and garner publicity.

It is unfortunate that such orders are issued at a time when the prime minister is stressing upon the importance of unity by emphasising the fact that in India, individuals will not be swayed by global terror movements.

This ‘no Muslims’ diktat is designed to create a climate of hostility and suspicion. It needs to be rebuffed in the strongest possible terms.

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