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Monday, December 5, 2022

Hindu prayer at Martand Sun temple in Kashmir in violation of rules

The Hindu prayer attended by Jammu and Kashmir Lt Governor Manoj Sinha at the premises of the Archaeological Survey of India-protected Martand Sun temple in Anantnag, was in violation of rules and the issue has been raised with the administration, ASI officials said on Monday.

A day after Sinha took part in the ‘Navgrah Ashtamangalam pooja’ at the ancient temple premises for which priests were called from outside Kashmir, ASI officials said no permission was sought from the conservation body for these prayers.

“We have raised our concerns with the district administration. They have been sent a message that it is a violation of our rules. No permission was sought from us for the prayers. The LG did not hold the prayers inside the temple, but outside it. However, even that is a violation,” an official of the ASI said on condition of anonymity.

The ASI has conveyed its displeasure to the district administration of Anantnag in South Kashmir and raised concerns over the issue, the official said.

Rule 7(1) of the 1959 Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains, states that meetings, receptions, parties, entertainment, or conferences cannot be held at a protected monument without permission in writing from the Central government.

Rule 7(2) says this should not apply to any event held “in pursuance of a recognized religious usage or custom”.

According to the rules, if a site was a functional place of worship when it came under the jurisdiction of the conservation body, then it would continue to be a place of worship, officials said.

However, the Martand Sun Temple was not such a site, so permission had to be sought, the officials said. Such protected sites that were functioning places of worship when the ASI took charge of them include Jamia Mosque, Srinagar, and the Fatehpur Sikri mosque.

The eighth-century Martand Temple is one of the oldest sun temples in India and a symbol of invaluable ancient spiritual heritage.

There was no immediate reaction from the Lt Governor’s office on this issue.

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