Three arrested for allegedly defacing murals at a temple in Gujarat


The Gujarat Police have arrested three persons for allegedly vandalising and defacing murals, amidst raging controversy over the “distorted depiction” of Lord Hanuman sitting at the feet of yogi and ascetic Swaminarayan or Sahajanand Swami at a temple in Botad district of the State. 

The famous Hanuman temple is managed by a branch of powerful Swaminarayan sect Vadtal Gadi Sansthan where the controversy over the murals have erupted after religious figures and saints raised their voice against what they termed “demeaning depiction of Hanuman”, a revered character in Ramayana. 

“Three persons have been arrested,” the Botad Police said, adding that heavy police deployment has been made to ensure law and order at the temple in Shalangpur. 

Meanwhile, local media reported that Vadtal Gadi Sansthan, which manages hundreds of temples, has decided to remove the controversial murals after the protests that have pitted the followers of Sanatana Dharma of Hinduism against Swaminarayan sect.

The Swaminarayan sect is a powerful sect that was founded in 19th century and has sprawling network in Gujarat and abroad with thousands of temples and other institutions. 

However, there is no official statement from the temple management so far. 

Decision to boycott

Meanwhile, some saints and followers of Sanatana Dharma have decided to boycott Swaminarayan sect for “distorted depictions” of religious figures of Hindus. 

“We will not tolerate the way some Swaminarayan sect priests describe our Hindu Gods and Goddesses in demeaning manner,” a statement issued by Gujarat branch of Karni Sena said. 

A delegation of religious leaders had on Thursday handed over a memorandum to the Botad Collector demanding that the mural be removed.

Also, several prominent figures like Morarji Bapu; who delivers discourses on Ramayana have objected to the murals in which Lord Hanuman was seen kneeling before Sahajanand Swami, who founded the Swaminarayan sect and is known as Lord Swaminarayan. 


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