January 13, 2004

The Saraswati idol in the British Museum

Posted at 1:30 pm in British Museum, Similar cases

The Elgin Marbles are far from the only purloined artefact in the British Museum. Many people in India, want the Saraswati idol to be returned to Bhojshala.

Central Chronicle

Tuesday January 13, 2004
Jyoti at Bhoshala fuels tension

BHOPAL: Will Bhojshala site spark a fresh row? A team of 60 devotees from Hindu Jagran Manch left Dhar (Bhojshala) for Maihar from where they are expected to bring Akhand Jyoti (eternal flame) to be installed in a temple site near the controversial venue of Bhojshala in Dhar distict.

The team, which started on Monday morning from Dhar, will reach Maihar on Tuesday and will ‘walk’ back to Dhar again and will reach Dhar on 20 January to install the Jyoti. Hindu Jagran Manch has already performed puja near the Bhojshala shrine on Saturday for the purpose.

The team would bring ‘akhand jyoti’ from the Maihar (Sharda peeth) and would install it outside Bhojshala, where a separate Hanuman temple is located, Radheshyam Yadav state coordinator of Central Province, Hindu Jagran Manch told Central Chronicle. Bhojshala is a controversial site, which Hindus consider a Saraswati temple and Muslims a mosque.

Hindu Jagaran Manch will organise a series of religious programmes from 20 January to 29 January. A Yajna will be performed on January 26 on Basant Panchami at the site, said Mr Yadav but added it is an annual ritual and there is no controversy in it. The Manch activist would distribute ‘jyotis’ in the entire district and when the Saraswati idol is placed the akhand jyoti will remain there, said Yadav.

Last February, there was a clash between the two communities following Basant Panchami celebrations and a few locals lost their lives too.

The Hindu Jagaran Manch registered protest and Centre granted Hindus the right to worship in the shrine every Tuesday. At present Hindus are allowed to visit Bhojshala every Tuesday while Muslims are allowed to offer Juma prayers on Fridays.

We are committed to bringing the Saraswati idol back to Bhojshala, which is said to be in the British Museum, said Yadav, adding Ms Bharti had promised to bring the idol on her head if there was a chance.

The Sangh sources denied having any information in this regard. “We really do not know about it,” a senior from Sangh told Central Chronicle.

When contacted Minister for religious affairs Gopal Bhargava was not available for comment. Sources in the BJP said that the party and Ms Bharti are focusing on development only and do not want to discuss these issues for now.

Shashikant Trivedi

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