A book of ‘Indian’ holidays without Christmas or Id

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A book of ‘Indian’ holidays without Christmas or Id

Mohit M. Rao

SAFFRON TINTED: While the cover of the book primarily features Hindu iconography, the rest of it doesn’t deviate from the Hinduism theme either. Photo: By Arrangement

The Hindu SAFFRON TINTED: While the cover of the book primarily features Hindu iconography, the rest of it doesn’t deviate from the Hinduism theme either. Photo: By Arrangement

A reference book on festivals observed by ‘Indians’, prescribed by the State government for school libraries across the State, carries in it only those observed by Hindus.

A reference book on festivals observed by ‘Indians’, prescribed by the State government for school libraries across the State, carries in it only those observed by Hindus.

While 30 pages of ‘Bharatiyara Habba Haridinagalu’ (or Festivals of Indians) are dedicated to explaining Upakarma, there is not a single word on Ramzan, Good Friday, Buddha Purnima, or any non-Hindu festival celebrated in the country.

A December 2011 circular sent by the Directorate of State Educational Research and Training (DSERT) directs primary and high schools to buy at least one copy of the book for their library.

At a voluminous 640 pages, the Kannada book written by Sri Sri Rangapriya, Sanskrit scholar and head of the Ashtangayoga Vijnana Mandiram, Hanumanthnagar, Bangalore, is priced at Rs. 500.

While the cover of the book primarily features Hindu iconography — the sage and the holy cow, ‘kalash’ (offerings given during a Hindu ritual), a temple gopura and devotees with hands joined in prayer — the rest of the book doesn’t deviate from the Hinduism theme.

‘Reflecting culture’

The DSERT, in its circular, describes the contents of the book as “reflecting Indian culture”.

Though the title says these are festivals celebrated by Indians, the book manages to cover only the major Hindu religious dates, 23 of them, besides mentioning birthdays of Hindu religious sages.

From festivals such as Ugadi, Ramanavami, Ganesh Chaturthi, Deepavali, Mahashivaratri and Akshaya Tritiya to lesser-known ones such as Subbraya Shrasthi and Rathasaptami, and even religious days observed primarily by the upper castes, such as Chathurmasa, Upakarma, Ananthapadmanabha Vrath and Narasimha Jayanti, are given detailed descriptions in the book.

Why is it that Ramzan, Id-ul-Fitr, Christmas, Good Friday, Buddha Purnima, Mahaveer Jayanti and Guru Nanak Jayanti find no place in the book, asks Nooruddin Salmar of the Dakshina Kannada Congress Minority Committee.

A trend

Talking to The Hindu, Mr. Salmar said the manner in which the order was quietly circulated, pointed to an increasing trend of saffronisation of education and emphasis on the Hindutva agenda seen under the Bharatiya Janata Party government.

“Aren’t Muslims, Christians, Jains, Parsis and animist tribes also Indians? Is it right to teach schoolchildren that only Hindus are Indians,” he asked.

Denying a ‘saffron tint’ to the book, DSERT Director Rama Rao said the book was chosen after the directorate deemed it “educationally suitable” for students.

“All the festivals mentioned in the book are celebrated pan-India. I don’t see why anyone has a problem with the title. One has to look at it with an open mind, and we believe the book to have adequate information for students to learn,” Mr. Rao said.

Other festivals

Claiming that the author, perhaps, did not have information on other religious festivals, Mr. Rao said the DSERT would recommend books written by scholars from other religions if they were submitted to the directorate.

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