I’m fighting against religious practices that are 5,000 years old. I am asking people to rethink. European nations started doing this about 400 years ago, we did after Independence… but still this thought is not encouraged,” said Narendra Dabholkar, the founder-president of Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti, who was instrumental in fighting the Kolhapur temple tradition which did not allow women to enter the sanctum sanctorum.
“I’m fighting against the tide. In his movement against corruption, Anna Hazare is saying what people want to hear. In my case, it is the other way round. People don’t like what I say,” explained Dabholkar during an interaction with The Indian Expess journalists in Pune. “There are 14 cases against me and the damages of almost Rs 14 crore have been sought. But it’s alright. I take it as part of my work. I am able to sleep in peace at night, that is what is more important.”
Dabholkar said the important thing is to stop people from being exploited by superstitions and not check whether a miracle exists or not. “The Eradication of Black Magic and Evil and Aghori Practices Act, 2005 will help stop exploitation of a lot of people in villages,” he said. “People should start believing a scientific thought process… And while one follows the scientific spirit, he should also be a critic of religion,” he said.
Explaining the Bombay High Court decision banning the use of Plaster of Paris while making Ganesh idols, Dabholkar said: “The HC wants only natural colours and material to be used as the other colours are highly toxic and carcinogenic.” He explained that the move was aimed at ensuring that drinking water sources are not polluted in any way. “Ideally, the police should be in duty near the place where idols are immersed in water and ask people to put it near the shore and not immerse it. Last year, Panch Ganga in Koihapur was very polluted; the people put big tubs near the shore and they were carried off in a tractor trolley. The same thing happened in Nasik also… The smart thing to do is to use clay idols and use the same mud for next year or use it in gardens”.
Courtesy: Indian Express