Mangaluru: The Karnataka government order to offer special prayers propitiating rain gods in all Muzrai temples to ensure rainfall in the state has been opposed by rationalists and environmentalists. The latter have even sent mails to the chief minister and chief secretary, criticising the order that was issued on June 3.
“Article 48 of the Indian Constitution endeavours to protect and improve the environment and safeguard the forests and wildlife of the country. To protect and to conserve the environment and to check vagaries of Nature, the government has created a separate cadre and department. Instead of questioning the functioning of the Forest and Environment Department, it is a tragedy that the government is invoking the God for rain,” H Shashidhar Shetty, general secretary, National Environment Care Federation (NECF), expressed his disappointment in his email to the chief minister.
“If there is no connection between rain and forest, the government should stop spending crores of rupees on the Forest and Environment Department. Instead, it should conduct rituals to woo the rain gods,” he said in mockery, adding, “Rather than the puja rituals, the government can ask all the Muzrai Department temples to plant saplings and offer ‘Vruksha Seve Puje’.”
Shetty said that the temples in the coastal districts were known for beauty of their natural surroundings and the pristine rivers. Due to commercialisation of these centres of pilgrimage, the forest surroundings of the temples have been destroyed, he stressed.
“Not just temples, even other religious institutions and leaders talk about planting saplings and saving rivers and lakes from pollution. The Hindu religion highlights worshipping of Nature. The snake on Shiva’s neck and River Ganga on his head convey a strong message that if you protect the environment, you are protecting religion by default. The core principle of every religion is to save and worship Nature,” Shetty reminded.
Narendra Nayak, president of the Federation of Indian Rationalist Association, condemned the government decision. It is an attempt to waste public money, he said with fury.
“It is nonsensical to say it will rain when the monsoons are round the corner. If you want to demonstrate the effectiveness of prayers in bringing rain, then do it in the month of January or February,” he challenged.
Prof Nayak also asked why the order was restricted to temples. “Order the churches and mosques too,” he said
“It is inappropriate that the government tries to bring a cause and effect relationship between prayer and rain without considering the factors that had led to the decline in rainfall,” he declared.
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The government, in its circular, has ordered all the Muzrai Department temples to conduct ‘Parjanya Japa’ and offer special pujas to propitiate the rain gods. Temple managements have been asked to limit the expenses of special pujas and rituals to Rs 10,001.
Religious Endowment Department Assistant Commissioner Prameela said that the circular on June 3 to hold special prayers had been communicated to all the 491 temples in Dakshina Kannada under the Muzrai Department.