Prompted by the state higher education department, the Pune University has informed its colleges about objections raised by Hindu Jan Jagruti Samiti, a right-wing organisation, on efforts to persuade students to immerse Ganesh idols in specially-created tanks instead of rivers, and asked them to submit a report to it. The Hindu Jan Jagruti Samiti has been claiming that Hindu tradition demanded that the immersion of idols be done in flowing water. It has argued that immersing them in tanks, because of environmental concerns, was against religious traditions.
The Samiti recently wrote to the higher education department, saying it had noticed, during the Ganesh visarjan celebrations last year, that many students were coaxing people to either donate their Ganesh idols to them or immerse them in tanks instead of river. It said the environmentalists fail to take note of the ‘denigration’ that idols go through after their immersion in tanks. The Samiti then demanded that the higher education department issue directions to all colleges to ensure that their students do not become part of such campaigns that force people to donate their idols or immerse them in tanks.
“This hurts Hindu religious sentiments and colleges should take note of it,” the Samiti said in its letter. The higher education department, on its part, forwarded the Samiti’s letter to the Pune University, with instructions that students in the affiliated colleges be asked not to indulge in practices that hurt religious sentiments.
The Pune University marked a copy of instructions of higher education department, along with the Samiti’s letter, to all its affiliated colleges, and also put it on its website, and asked them to send a report. Despite repeated calls, Vijay Narkhede, joint director of higher education, and Pune University vice-chancellor N R Karmalkar, remained unavailable for comment.