09/25/2014, 00.00
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Radical Hindus against Muslims participating in traditional dances to seduce Hindu women

by Nirmala Carvalho
The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) wants to ban young Muslims from taking part in the garba, a traditional dance performed during a festival dedicated to the goddess Durga. Surprisingly, a Muslim politician agrees. The VHP is right: no to "social mingling," he says. However, many Hindus and Muslims disagree. For one of them, "Comments that cause tensions between communities should be ignored".

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - The Hindu ultranationalist group Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) wants to ban young Muslim men from attending the garba, a traditional dance, set to be performed across Gujarat for the festival Navratri. The goal is to prevent them from seducing Hindu women.

This proposal is part of a broader campaign undertaken by the VHP against Islam and what it calls the love jihad. Oddly enough, a Muslim former Congress Member of Parliament, Mohammed Patel, wrote an open letter to thank the VHP for its suggestion.

The garba is a dance that originated in the State of Gujarat and is performed during the festival of Navratri, which is dedicated to the Hindu goddess Durga.

Over nine nights (the duration of the celebrations) men and women wear bright colours - red, pink, yellow, orange - and heavy jewellery, dancing around a round lantern or an image of the divinity. Circle and spiral symbolise the Hindu vision of the time.

"I am grateful to the organisations of the Hindu Right," wrote Patel, "for doing what Islamic leaders have failed to do, namely prevent their followers from taking part in a celebration that is against Islam."

In the opinion of the former lawmaker, "We should keep an eye on all of our girls and young women, Hindu and Muslim, to ensure we do not go beyond the line of religious sanctions to indulge in social mixing."

However, many others in both communities disagree.

"We want everyone to participate in garba as always, but some groups are using this festival to claim to be the protectors of the Hindu community," said PB Baria, president of the Adhyashakti Garba Mahotasav Godhra.

"The whole thing is being orchestrated to harm Narendra Modi's image," said Syed Amin, secretary general of the Muslim Social Group in Vadodara.

"Since Muslims do not take part in Navratri," he added, "the basic idea [behind the proposal] is misplaced.

"Still, the two communities are inevitably linked. Whilst Muslims make and sell kites for Uttrayan, fireworks for Diwali, decorations for Ram Leela, and clothing, Hindus buy them. Comments that cause tensions between communities should be ignored."

In Vadodara, "Muslim women and Hindu men have married out of love," said Syed. "In such families, each practices their own religion in harmony."

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