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Karnataka temple continues tradition of beginning festival with Quran recitation

The venerable Chennakeshava temple in Belur kept its age-old custom of kicking off the rathotsava (vehicle festival) by reciting Quran chapters despite resistance from right-wing groups.

On Wednesday, the temple officials were given permission to continue with the practice by the state endowment department. The annual festival began on Wednesday and hundreds of people came from all across the state to watch the two-day vehicle festival at the Chennakeshava temple.

‘Since a long time, reading excerpts from the Quran has been the tradition that is followed. However, this year, there was confusion as the temple authorities had initially issued a notice barring Muslim traders from setting up stalls. However, the endowment department took the suggestion from various priests and decided to go ahead with the tradition’, an official said.

According to custom, a maulvi reads passages from the Quran to mark the beginning of the celebrations at the Chennakeshava temple. Right-wing groups recently petitioned the district administration and temple officials to prohibit Muslim shopkeepers from participating in the festival, as communal tensions loomed large over Karnataka.

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As per senior authorities, the state endowment department had advised the temple administration not to exclude any non-Hindu vendors and had permitted them to set up stalls and participate in the celebrations.

‘Earlier, the temple administration had issued a notice to Muslim shopkeepers and urged them to close their shops. However, the government allowed them to take part in the festival and directed the temple administration to allow non-Hindus to set up stalls. Accordingly, around 15 Muslim traders had set up their shops’, a senior official said.


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