Religion vs tourism: Jains concern {that a} sacred hill shall be defiled by tourism initiatives

Members of the Jain community blocked the road of Inner Circle of India Gate in New Delhi on January 1, 2023, during a protest against the decision of the Jharkhand govt to declare sacred Shri Sammed Shikharji a tourist place.

Members of the Jain neighborhood blocked the street of Inside Circle of India Gate in New Delhi on January 1, 2023, throughout a protest towards the choice of the Jharkhand govt to declare sacred Shri Sammed Shikharji a vacationer place.
| Picture Credit score: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

Leaders of many religions have joined palms to save lots of a hill that the Jain neighborhood considers sacred. For over every week now, Jains throughout Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, and Delhi, have been organising peaceable protests. The outcry is towards a Jharkhand authorities choice that would change the demographic of holiday makers to Sammed Sikharji at Parasnath Parvat (hill), Giridih district, taking it from a “place of pilgrimage” to a “non secular vacationer vacation spot”. The protestors demand that the Jharkhand authorities revoke its choice to advertise Parasnath Parvat “as part of eco-tourism or any type of tourism”. They really feel it will disrupt the sanctity of the hill dotted with temples.

Sammed Sikharji, or simply Sikharji, as it’s reverentially identified domestically, stands 1,350 metres tall, and is probably the most essential pilgrimage websites for the Jains. It’s believed that 20 of the 24 Tirthankaras (enlightened beings) attained moksha (salvation) right here. The hill itself is known as after Parasnath, the twenty third Tirthankara. Yearly hundreds of Jain pilgrims from the world over undertake a 27-km-long trek to succeed in the summit.

Jains have petitioned the Prime Minister, urging him to press the State to withdraw its choice. Moreover, the Nationwide Fee for Minorities wrote to the Jharkhand Chief Secretary in December 2022 taking cognisance of the illustration from the Jain neighborhood to offer the hill a “holy standing”. The Fee is slated to carry a listening to on January 17 to debate the matter.

View from either side

The protest by the Jain neighborhood members erupted with the information that the Jharkhand authorities is contemplating a proposal to amend a 2019 notification. The then BJP authorities had earmarked Parasnath Hill as a spiritual tourism spot. They had despatched the proposal to the Centre, which additionally notified the hill as an eco-sensitive zone.

In July 2022, as a part of its tourism coverage, the Hemant Soren-led Jharkhand authorities determined to “promote non secular tourism” at Parasnath Hills, a authorities tourism division official advised  The Hindu. They added, “Nevertheless, nothing has been achieved but on the bottom and nothing a lot could be achieved when it comes to infrastructure improvement, as the world has already been notified as a sanctuary and eco-sensitive zone.”

Manoj Kumar, State Tourism Secretary, spoke to a bit of the media in Ranchi, and acknowledged the priority raised by the Jains. “We’ve got obtained a few representations from the neighborhood members who’ve raised some apprehensions,” he mentioned. “We’re wanting into the technical particulars of the notification and can give you a workable proposal which takes care of the neighborhood issues with out compromising on enforcement points.” He has additional mentioned that he has issued recent instructions to the Giridih district administration “to implement a 2018 order which is to maintain the place sacrosanct in letter and spirit as per the tenets of Jainism”.

Mr. Sudivya Kumar, the native Giridih MLA from the ruling occasion, the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, advised  The Hindu, “An amicable resolution to the problem raised by the Jain neighborhood shall be present in every week by inviting members of the neighborhood, saints, officers and different stake-holders in view of our Chief Minister Hemant Soren’s initiative on this course.” He asserted: “This can be a native difficulty and it ought to be resolved domestically.”

Nevertheless, Muni Pranam Sagar ji, revered by the Jain neighborhood, has mentioned that the Centre and State governments ought to denotify the Parshwanath Hill circuit as an eco-sensitive zone. “Why eco-tourism zone; why not eco- thirthsthan or eco-pilgrimage centre?” requested the Jain Muni whereas talking to the media.

Some members of the Jain neighborhood in Ranchi who protested the federal government’s transfer, mentioned that they might maintain protesting till the federal government withdraws the proposal. “The place Parasnath Parvat is a matter of our internal religion and the federal government ought to instantly withdraw its proposal to inform the place to advertise non secular tourism. We’ll not tolerate any such transfer and maintain protesting till it will get withdraws,” mentioned Ajay Jain, who described himself as a social activist.

Amongst the protesters in Ranchi, Vinod Jain added, “When the place is promoted as a vacationer spot, folks will begin consuming meat and consuming liquor. Lodges will give you a number of different actions which aren’t accepted by Jain neighborhood members.” Pushpa Jain, who can be out protesting, mentioned, “Religion and tourism are two various things.”

In addition to the Jain neighborhood, members of the Santhal tribe too maintain their annual competition on the hills in mid-April.

Assist from throughout

A variety of leaders have come out in assist of the Jain neighborhood. The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), whereas extending assist to the neighborhood, requested the federal government to desist from making the non secular place a “tourism spot” and respect folks’s sentiments. “We’re of the clear opinion that no pilgrimage website ought to be transformed right into a vacationer vacation spot,” mentioned Mr. Alok Kumar, working nationwide president of the VHP. Mr. Kumar mentioned that the VHP would take mandatory motion on this course together with the representatives of the Jain neighborhood.

He additionally mentioned that the organisation is pushing for State governments and the Central authorities to kind an unbiased Ministry of Pilgrimage, which might develop pilgrimage websites in accordance with the religion and perception of the followers.

AIMIM Chief Mr Asaduddien Owaisi tweeted to increase his assist and mentioned that the Jharkhand authorities should rescind the choice. Congress chief Mr. Shashi Tharoor too tweeted that the federal government ought to respect the feelings of the Jain neighborhood and declare Sikharji as a spiritual place.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *