Press conference at Ahilyanagar (Ahmednagar)
(Vastrasamhita is the regulation regarding the clothes to be worn while entering the temple)
Ahilyanagar (Ahmednagar) – After Nagpur and Amravati it has now been decided to implement a dress code in over 16 temples to preserve the sanctity, grace, discipline and culture of the temples. The above resolution was passed in the State-level ‘Maharashtra Temple-Trust Conference’ held at Jalgaon on the 4th and 5th of February 2023 for the protection of temples and religious traditions. Also at the District level Hindu Rashtra Adhiveshan held at Ahilyanagar (formerly Ahmednagar District) on 7th May 2023, a resolution was passed after a discussion on this issue. This issue was formally decided in the meeting between Hindutvavadis. After this meeting, Mr Sunil Ghanwat the Coordinator of the Maharashtra Temple Association held a press conference on 3rd June at the temple of the Village Deity Shri Vishal Ganapati Mandir in Ahilyanagar. Along with the above temple, the other temple managements of Ahilyanagar have resolved to implement the dress code are the Shree Ambikadevi Temple (Burhannagar), Shree Shani-Maruti Temple (Maliwada), Shree Shani-Maruti Temple (Delhi Gate), Shree Shani-Maruti Temple (Zendigate), Shree Tuljabhavani Temple (Sabjeel Chowk), Shree Ganesh Radhakrishna Temple (Market Yard), Shri Ram Mandir (Pavannagar Savedi) and finally the Shri Vitthal-Rukmini Mandir (Vaninagar). The press conference was moderated by Mr Rameshwar Bhukan the District Coordinator of the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti.
Since 2020, the Maharashtra Government has implemented a dress code in all Government offices of the state. Along with this, they have been implemented in several temples, Gurdwaras, Churches, Mosques and other places of worship in the country. Since a dress code is applicable in all private institutions like schools-colleges, Courts, Police, etc. Similarly, there should be a dress code in temples as well. The above statement was made by Mr Sunil Ghanwat, the Coordinator of the Maharashtra Mandir Mahasangh.
Mr. Sunil Ghanwat further stated –
1. Over the years some of the famous temples like Shri Mahakaleshwar Temple of Ujjain, Shri Ghrishneswar Temple in Maharashtra, Shri Dev Mangalgraha Temple in Ammalner, Shri Kashi-Visweswar Temple in Varanasi, Shri Tirupati Balaji Temple in Andhra Pradesh, the famous Shri Padmanabhaswamy Temple in Kerala, Shri Mata Temple in Kanyakumari, etc. have started introducing a Sattvik form of dress code.
2. Dress codes are also being enforced in most of the temples in Goa and also in the big churches like the ‘Basilica of Born Jesus’ and ‘Sea Cathedral’. The Government of Maharashtra has banned the wearing of ‘jeans-pants’, ‘T-shirts’, brightly coloured or embroidered clothes, and ‘slippers’ for ‘Government officials and employees’.
3. The Madras High Court has also accepted that ‘Sattvik attire should be worn when entering temples in Tamil Nadu’ and has enforced the dress code in the state from 1st January 2016. Going for a Darshan of God wearing loose clothes or in non-conventional attire does not amount to ‘Individual Freedom’.
4. Everyone has the personal freedom of ‘what clothes to wear at home and in public places’, but a temple is a religious place. Here the religious conventions should be followed and each person’s conduct should be as per Dharma. Here religion has precedence over individual freedom.
When a dress code is enforced in temples today, some progressives, modernists, and libertarians immediately oppose it. But they do not object to the clothes worn by Christian pastors who wear white trouser robes or the attire of the mullah-maulvis who wear tokda pyjamas or Muslim women who wear black veils.
Reactions of the dignitaries in the press conference
1. The president of the Maliwada Panch Mandal Devasthan Trust Shri Abhay Agarkar said, “This appeal made by the temple association is correct and we have started it from Vishal Ganapati. Hence we request everyone to cooperate by following the dress code.”
2. Pandit Kharpude, the vice president of the Maliwada Panch Mandal Devasthan Trust, said, “Indian clothes are more sattvik and civilized compared to Western clothing. The statement that ‘We can do anything due to our right of Individual freedom does not work here, every person has his own special right to practice his religion’.
3. H.B.P. Prabhatai Bhong said, “A Dress code is essential in order to protect the culture of the temples. This decision has been taken to preserve the culture and sanctity of the temples. Our main point is that no one should enter the temple wearing revealing, indecent and torn clothes, and for this reason, we are enforcing the dress code. Hence, we have decided that we are going to put up a similar board at the Shri Krishna-Radha Temple in Sarasnagar.
4. Abhishek Bhagat, the chief advocate of Shri Tuljabhavani temple in Burhannagar said, “Implementing a dress code in a temple is not an affront to any person’s personal freedom” but is necessary to maintain the sanctity of the temple itself. Wearing Indian clothes will promote our culture and instil self-esteem in the young generation. Our traditional textile manufacturing industry will also get a boost compared to the West. The economy of rural areas will improve. The main point of the Maharashtra Mandir Mahasangh is that if one is to absorb the Sattvikata of the temple to a greater extent, then our behaviour and attire should also be Sattvik.
5. Mr Bapu Thange of the Mandir Raksha Samiti said, “The Dress code campaign is being implemented through the Mandir Raksha Samiti. It is getting a positive response from everywhere and the trustees of all the temples are trying to implement and follow the dress code as per their capacity and put up notice boards in front of the temple.