Rajnath Singh writes to PM against ‘religious’ tone of CWG functions


New Delhi: Former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Rajnath Singh has written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh opposing representation of religious practices during the Commonwealth Games’ opening and closing ceremonies, and suggested that Vedic hymns should be chanted instead as they “portray eternal human values”.

Support TwoCircles

Singh said he was writing about the decision of the Group of Ministers (GoM) regarding the opening and closing ceremonies and the move to add religious fervour to the Oct 3-14 Games with a view to give a glimpse of Indian culture.

“I came to know that azaan will be a part of the background score at the opening and closing ceremonies of the Commonwealth Games. The ceremonies will also have a qawwali soundtrack, props on the celebration of Eid. There will also be representation of other religions. I think that religion and religious practices should be left as the private domain of the players,” Singh said.

Singh, MP from Ghaziabad, said the government has “gone overboard with the political angle” even in the Commonwealth Games.

“I regard Eid as a holy festival of Muslim brethren, but anything related to celebration of Eid during Games would not only be absurd, rather un-Islamic because Eid does not fall during that period according to the Islamic calendar. If any religious calendar is to be kept in mind, then it should be the celebration of Navratras which falls during that period,” he said.

He said India was a secular country and the state should not start religious practices in CWG.

“It would not only be uncalled for, rather a departure from the secular traditions of the Commonwealth Games. The Games should start and end with the Games anthem,” he said.

He said if something needs to be added, it should be the national anthem and national song. “We respect all the religions, be it Sanatan Dharma, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, Islam, Christianity or Judaism.”

Singh said he was surprised to know that the government tried to depict the religious colour of Indian culture “leaving aside, the most ancient and basic root of most of the Indian religious sects which is the vedic culture”.

He said the chanting of Vedic mantras “does not represent any religion rather it represents the eternal human values with the universal message of ‘Vasudhaev Kutumbakam (the Universe is a family) and Atithi devo bhava (Guest is God)”.

He hoped the prime minister would intervene “to do away with the anomalies and project a culturally more correct picture of India”.