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The Hindu
The Hindu
The Hindu Bureau

Controversy erupts over the depiction of Hanuman at a temple in Gujarat

A controversy has erupted in Gujarat over the “distorted depiction” of Hanuman sitting at the feet of Swaminarayan on a wall of a Hanuman temple at Salangpur in Botad district of the State. 

Hindu religious leaders and several local outfits have raised their voice against the depiction and asked for the removal of the murals, which are made of cast metal and installed on the walls near the Hanuman statue at the temple.

These religious leaders have come out against the powerful Swaminarayan sect for depicting Lord Hanuman in a manner that is construed as demeaning. Some murals also depict Hanuman as bowing down to Swaminarayan or Sahajanand Swami, who came from Uttar Pradesh and founded the Swaminarayan sect in Gujarat in the 19th century.

On Saturday, local police detained one Jitubhai Gadhvi, who allegedly defaced some of the murals. He entered the temple holding an axe in one hand and ink in the other, and went past the barricades placed around the bronze statues amid police deployment. Video clips recording his entry went viral on social media. In one of the videos, he is seen wielding an axe in one hand and holding ink in the other, which he throws to blacken some of the murals before hitting them with the axe.

“It is a humiliation of Lord Hanuman who was the devotee of Lord Rama while the Swaminarayan sect was founded in 18th century,” a widely circulated social media post read.

The temple is managed by the Bochasanwasi Akshar Purushottam Sanstha (BAPS), a leading branch of the Swaminarayan sect. The BAPS runs the famous Akshardham temples in Gandhinagar, Delhi, and other places. The organisation has so far not made any statement on the controversy.

A prominent saint who delivers discourses on the Ramayana, Morari Bapu, has also said that such murals must be removed.

Local police have now cordoned off the area and deployed security for the temple. 

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