VHP puts posters asking non-Hindus to skip Garba
The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) commenced planting banners at the gates of select garba venues across Gujarat ahead of the Navratri festival, demanding non-Hindus to not engage in the Garba programmes. The Parishad claimed that Garba was "only for Hindus". If VHP leaders are to be believed at least 100 such venues will feature these posters.
Garba is a Gujarati folk dance celebrated in which is performed during the nine-day festival of Navratri towards the end of the year.
In September 2014, the VHP had invoked a similar ban on the entry of Muslim youths at the Garba venues to check 'eve teasing' on the festive occasion of Navratri. The ban had sprung from Maulana Mehdi Hasan's comment that Navratri was the "festival of devils as rapists and drunkards use to participate in it". The VHP had criticised him for maligning Hinduism.
Maulana Mehdi Hasan had come in the international media spotlight in 2011 when Narendra Modi (then Gujarat CM) had refused to don a skull cap offered by Hasan during Modi's Sadbhavna fast in 2011.
Garba organisers and a local Hindu outfit, Hindu Sangathan Yuva Morcha banned the entry of Mandvi Muslims to all garba venues in Kutch. Moreover, conditions were levied even on the Hindus entering the venues who would "have to sprinkle cow urine on themselves and apply tilak on their forehead." The rules they claimed had been framed the previous year and would be complied with.
The VHP announced a diktat which prohibited non-Hindus, including Muslims and Christians, at any garba events across Gujarat. The VHP said its workers would keep a close guard at the garba venues to check the non-Hindus from entering the venues. The VHP further asserted that Muslims wishing enjoy garba, would be given the opportunity to "embrace Hinduism" at the venue
Gujarat VHP's general secretary Ranchhod Bharwad said that the ban was applicable only in small residential colonies and not the bigger clubs. He said it was an important step "to stop incidents of 'love jihad', where Muslim boys lure and marry Hindu girls." Further, he said that Navratri was a Hindu festival and its sanctity could not be tampered with by involving non-Hindus.
VHP said that their ban did not come under Modi's "sab ka saath sab ka vikas (development of all with all)" pitch's scope as Navratri was not a "government function."