February 23, 2018

Uttar Pradesh’s ‘Taj Mahotsav’ to revolve around Lord Ram this year, govt invites ire over alleged ‘saffronisation’

Uttar Pradesh’s ‘Taj Mahotsav’ to revolve around Lord Ram this year, govt invites ire over alleged ‘saffronisation’

A fresh controversy over the iconic Taj Mahal broke out on Monday after the Uttar Pradesh government announced to open this year’s ‘Taj Mahotsav’ festival with a dance-drama based on Lord Ram.

Considered a major departure from the tradition of highlighting Mughal culture at the festival, the event will be held between 18-27 February at Shilpgram.

According to CNN-News18, the state government said that the local officials were the ones in charge of the ‘Taj Mahotsav’ and that the Yogi Adityanath-led government plays no role in it. They also added that the festival will be held with the Taj Mahal in the cultural backdrop.

Both Adityanath and Governor Ram Naik have been invited to attend the inauguration ceremony, reported Times Now.

Dismissing the allegations of saffronising the festival, deputy director of the state tourism department, Dinesh Kumar said the ‘Taj Mahotsav’ committee executes the themes chosen, according to the Times Now report.

“This year, ideas on themes were invited from the people of the city. The committee had received some 180-185 theme ideas from which the selection committee chose the ‘Dharohar’ theme,” the report quoted him as saying.

Speaking to News18, BJP leader Vijay Shivhare justified the theme of the festival and said: “I want to ask Opposition leaders, aren’t they Hindu? Don’t they take Lord Ram’s name when the wake-up? What better way to start a programme than by taking Lord Ram’s name?”

Meanwhile, Samajwadi Party spokesperson Ghanshyam Tiwari chastised the move and said the saffron party had failed to deliver its promises and was trying to divert people’s attention, the report stated.

This is not the first time the Taj Mahal has at the centre of a controversy. In October last year, the central government chose not to name the historic monument in its first list of 14 heritage sites to be named under the ‘Adopt a Heritage’ scheme. The heritage sites were to be adopted by private companies in the tourism ministry’s idea, but the Taj Mahal was not one of them.

Subramanian Swamy earlier said that Shah Jahan “stole” the Taj Mahal from the king of Jaipur. “There is evidence on record that Shah Jahan forced the Raja-Maharajas of Jaipur to sell the land on which Taj Mahal is standing, and he gave them a compensation of forty villages, which is nothing compared to the property’s value,” he said.

BJP MP Vijay Katiyar went to the extent of refusing to even call it the Taj Mahal. “It is Tejo Mahal. Taj Mahal used to be a temple of Shankar. Shah Jahan then buried his wife there. Hindu kings had built the Tejo Mahal. It was so famous that Shah Jahan later captured it,” Katiyar said.

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