Two groups clashed here and in Berhampur town on Tuesday over consumption of food on lunar eclipse day which led to the police to intervene to control the situation. A clash took place at Lohia Academy building in Bhubaneswar where a group of people identifying themselves as rationalists organized a community feast and was opposed by a number of people claiming to be traditionalists, the police said.
The second group, most of them youths, forcibly entered the Lohia Academy premises when the community feast was going on and attacked the rationalists. As the situation turned volatile and even people who were eating biryani served at the community feast were thrashed, the police intervened. As the condition escalated, the police picked up about 12 members of both the groups as a preventive measure.
Meanwhile, a report from Berhampur said that a group claiming to be traditionalists allegedly threw cow dung at a temporary camp where non vegetarian feast was served at a community feast. They also tore down posters which said there is no harm in consuming food on and during lunar or solar eclipse. This led to the police resorting to lathi charge to disperse the warring groups. “I blame the state government and the police for the entire episode. The police was aware that there was tension between the two groups over consumption of food on lunar eclipse day,” said Genesh Das, a rationalist, who attended the community feast and meeting at Lohia Academy here. Prafulla Samantray, who attended the community feast at Berhampur, said, “We demand proper action against the people who attacked the community feast”.
Local CPI leader Narayan Reddy claimed that three members of the rationalists group were injured in stone pelting in Berhampur. The issue was also raised during the October 28 solar eclipse when there was verbal duel between two groups over eating food on days eclipse take place. Puri Shankaracharya Swami Nischalananda Saraswati and many Hindu religious heads had rejected the rationalists’ argument that dubbed the tradition of forgoing food during eclipse as superstition. The rationalists were accused of hurting religious sentiments of Hindus.