Sidelined, RSS-BJP Dalit leader joins hands with Mevani 

Mulchand Rana, 64, said to be one of the tallest Dalit ideologues in the BJP, has quit the Sangh Parivar and joined hands with Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani in Gujarat. Rana quit after serving the RSS-BJP for 48 years. Rana joined the RSS in 1970. In 1998, he joined the Gujarat unit of the BJP and served as a secretary. 

In 2000, he was appointed as a member of the Gujarat Public Service Commission where he worked for six years and then got actively associated with RSS’ Samajik Samrasata Manch of Gujarat, an RSS wing of social unity. Rana has sent letters to both the BJP and the RSS, requesting them to relieve him from all his responsibilities. 

He worked as vice-president of the Manch since 2006. 

Rana was not happy with the RSS launching a parallel organisation for assimilating Dalits to the Hindutva fold under the banner Bhartiya Buddha Sangh. 

Initially, the new organisation spread its activities in Gujarat and later expanded to Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. 

The RSS chose a young Dalit face from Uttar Pradesh, Bhantey Sanghapriye Rahul, to lead the Buddha Sangh. 

Rahul is considered to be a close associate of BJP’s Dalit Delhi Lok Sabha member, Udit Raj, who is the national chairman of the All India Confederation of SC/ST Organisations.

Feeling sidelined, Rana joined hands with Mevani. 

Sufi music festival returns to Delhi

The world Sufi music festival, Jahan-e-Khusrau, founded by filmmaker Muzaffar Ali and held under the aegis of thje Rumi Foundation returns with its 13th edition to the national capital’s Arab Ki Sarai, Humayun’s Tomb on 9-11 March. Jahan-e-Khusrau, started in 2001, speaks of universal love and has strived to bridge the gaps among varied cultures.

This year, Jahan e Khusrau will stage a two-part ballet, Yamuna, Dariya Prem Ka, dedicated to sensitising the world about the ecological damage to water resources through the moving story of the Yamuna. 

The festival will witness the ballet on the opening and closing days with a new phase of the Yamuna unfolding its myth, her relevance today and the Sufi tribute to Krishna and his beloved river.

This year, the festival will showcase artistes Malini Awasthi, Lucknow; Shubha Mudgal, Delhi; Hans Raj Hans and Kanwar Garewal, Punjab; Kailash Kher and Pooja Gaitonde, Mumbai; and Barnali Chattopadhyay, Kolkata, along with an international music ensemble with poetry recitation by Murad Ali and a group from Iran, to name a few.

Talking to The Sunday Guardian, Muzaffar Ali said that it was unfortunate that Sufi lovers were being killed and persecuted in Pakistan. 

“Still, they are continuing with their passion for Sufism there.” In his opinion, India is a heaven for Sufi singers and their listeners. 

“Our nation has been blessed with this unique medium of Sufism to connect with our creator.”

And now, a mundan contract

The famous Sheetla Mata temple in Gurugram, which is thronged by lakhs of people every year for mundan ceremonies, has floated a tender for this task. The Sri Sheetla Devi Puja Sathal Board will auction the hall for mundan ceremonies. The reserve price for the tender is Rs 1 crore. The earnest money for submitting the tender was Rs 5 lakh. The catch is that the contract will be awarded only up to 31 December 2018. Still, it is believed that whosoever will win the tender stands a chance to earn several crores of rupees in 10 months as the devotees generously give good money to the pundit performing the mundan ceremony and to the nai (barber) who cuts the hair.

As per the Mahabharata, Sheetla Devi was wife of Guru Dronacharya, who was the teacher of the Pandavas and Kauravas. Gurgaon was renamed as Gurugam after Guru Dronacharya. 

The temple is located on Sheetla Mata Road in Gurugram. It was built in the 18th century by the King Jawahar Singh of Bharatpur in memory of his victory over the Mughals, for which he had invoked the blessings of Sheetla Mata.

It is said that Sheetla Devi used to live in Keshopur village of Gurugram. Dronacharya used to visit her daily from his Gurugram ashram

She devoted her life to look after sick children, especially those suffering from smallpox. After her death, a temple was built in her honour by the villagers and she began to be remembered as Mata Sheetla or Mata Masani, that is, “the goddess of smallpox”.

Cows dying in Punjab

Political and religious groups in Patiala, Punjab, are alarmed at the plight of the government cow shelter in Gazipur near Samana in the state. Over 200 cows have died here in the past five months. The shelter was opened in November 2016. It had 800 cows in October 2017. This number has got reduced to 590. Most of them are ill or are in a bad shape. The carcasses of the cows which died recently were lying in the open near the shelter. 

The shortage of staff, including caretakers, and a permanent veterinary doctor is considered one of the reasons for the poor state of affairs at the gaushala. A local veterinary doctor believes that the main reason behind the cow deaths is consumption of plastic. 

A roadside mechanic Bhim Singh is fighting to save the cows from dying. He sat on a dharna in front of the deputy commissioner’s office. “Since October,” he says, “four-five cows are dying daily as they are not protected from harsh cold weather and are not given nutritious food.” Singh says that “if no one is going to help these cows, I am going to send an SOS appeal to PM Modi.”

Pope invites five non-Christian Indians

A young Sikh boy, Inderjeet Singh (26) from Jalandhar has been invited by Pope Francis for a pre-synod meeting in Vatican City from 18 to 24 March. Besides him, four more will be going from India. They include Sandeep Pandey of Vasai (Mumbai); who will be the Hindu representative. In all, 300 youths from across the world have been invited. This is the first time that the Pope has invited youths from other faiths to attend an event ahead of the synod (council of the Church). Franco Mulakkal, chairman of the National Youth Commission of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India, and the Bishop, Jalandhar diocese, told The Sunday Guardian that the Pope had expressed his desire “to interact with youths from various faiths in the run-up to the Synod of Bishops on Youth to be held in October”.

The Conference of India has over 200 bishops. Mulakkal, who will also attend the synod, says that the Pope wants to know their views on world affairs and what contribution they can make to ensure inter-faith harmony and peace.

A devout Sikh, Inderjeet Singh has done his BCom from the Trinity College in Jalandhar. “My parents taught me to respect all religions,” he told this paper. 

Man Mohan can be contacted at



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