Mumbai (AsiaNews/Agencies) – India’s Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma has rejected a petition by a group of lawyers that the Taj Mahal was a Hindu temple, and as such should be handed over to Hindus. The government found no evidence to support the claim for the monument’s ‘Hinduisation’.
The Taj Mahal, a 17th Century mausoleum, was built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, a Muslim, and cannot be considered a Hindu temple.
In their application, six lawyers from Agra, where the monument is located, told the court there was "substantial evidence" suggesting that the building was originally a temple dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva.
Completed in 1653, the mausoleum is dedicated Shah Jahan’s third and favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who died giving birth to their 14th child.
The monument includes a complex structure of white marble domes and minarets inlaid with semi-precious stones and carvings. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1983.
The idea of ‘Hinduising’ a Muslim monument is part of broader agenda pursued by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (National Volunteer Organisation or RSS), a Hindu ultra-nationalist paramilitary group.
Since the Registrar General of India released in late August its 2011 census data for religion, which indicate that the Muslim proportion of the population has gone up whilst the Hindu proportion has gone down, the RSS has been pushing India’s central government to take action against the “rising” numbers of Christians and Muslims, which for them is creating a “demographic imbalance".