The Uttar Pradesh government has asked the local administration across the state to organise special religious and cultural events, including recitation of Durga Saptashati and Akhand Ramayan, in temples during the nine-day Chaitra Navratri and Ram Navami festivals.
The Chaitra Navratri begins on March 22 and Ram Navami will be celebrated on March 30.
In an order dated March 10, the principal secretary of culture department, Mukesh Meshram, said Chaitra Navratri has a special significance during which the nine ”swaroop” of Goddess Durga are worshipped to end negative energy. So organising religious and cultural events during this period is proposed, he said.
The order, sent to all district magistrates and divisional commissioners, said the culture department will make Rs 1 lakh available to each district to pay as honorarium to artists chosen to perform at these events.
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While Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya welcomed the government decision, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav sarcastically termed the amount inadequate and said the government should give more to districts to allow the celebration of all religious festivals.
”The proposal to give Rs 1 lakh to district magistrates of UP to celebrate Ram Navami is welcomed but what will happen with such a small amount. At least Rs 10 crore should be given so that festivals of all religions can be celebrated,” Yadav said, adding the BJP government should give free cylinders on festivals and it should start from this Ram Navami.
Congress spokesperson Anshu Awasthi said, ”It’s good to organise religious events but what about the issues on which people had voted for BJP.” Awasthi asked where were the jobs promised by the party. ”There is no day spent without news of atrocities on Brahmins and Dalits in UP. The BJP has failed on issues and promises that were made to people of the state.” However, Maurya dismissed the questions raised by the opposition. ”If any religious event related to Lord Shri Ram and Ramcharitmanas is being organised then it should be welcomed. There should be no questions or answers on it. All I want to say is Jai Shri Ram and Jai Mata Di.” Meanwhile, Meshram told PTI there’s nothing new in the culture department order as similar programmes have been held earlier too.
”Such programmes have been held earlier too and this is not the first time they are being held in the state. Holding these programmes will provide a platform to the artists at the local level to showcase their talent,” he added.
The senior government officer has asked the local administration to organise Durga Saptashati, Devi Gaan and Devi Jagran at temples and ‘shaktipeeths’ under a special drive to ensure participation of women and girls.
On Ashtami and Ram Navami (March 29 and 30), Akhand Ramayan paath should be organised in major temples and ‘shaktipeeths’ to spread human, social and national values, the order said.
Two nodal officers have been appointed at the state level for proper coordination. And the order said an organising committee should be set up in each block, tehsil, and district.
A committee headed by the district magistrate in each district will select the artists who will perform at the events, the order said, adding public representatives should be invited and large public participation should be ensured.
The government has also asked local administrations to upload photographs of these events on the website of the department of culture.
All preparations should be made by March 21, by which time GPS locations, photographs of the temples and the contact details of the temple management bodies should be shared with the culture department.