Every country and every community considers preserving their cultural heritage important. Preserving a country’s art and architecture is not only the responsibility of the governing bodies but is carried out institutionally both by the society and its governing agencies. In our country, the archaeological survey of India is entrusted with the task of preserving our heritage but it seems this institution is too selective in its approach and has set its own standards to promote one culture at the cost of another. This selectiveness which often results in desecration of the neglected faiths, can either be the result of the new political culture in the country or a deliberate attempt by the authorities to promote a certain faith and culture.
India is a multicultural and a multi-ethnic country, but it is really a sorry state of affairs that one faith is being patronised more vehemently which ultimately leads to a loss of the secular essence our country boasts of. This is quite evident from the fact that this institutionalised form of violence is rife across the country. A select group of religious hard-liners are thrusting their beliefs and practices on the minorities and lower castes in this country. Another gory picture of this discrimination and deliberate neglect is the way ancient monuments and worship places of minority faiths are being trampled upon in the name of preservation. This particular kind of neglect and open desecration is why the anger among the minorities is growing.
Any individual visiting ancient monuments, tombs and worship places of different religious groups can experience the ambience and serenity these places hold. If we focus on the national capital and its peripheries alone, one can see that various monuments like the Lotus temple, Bangla sahib gurudwara, Akshardham temple etc. are not only being maintained but a regular beautification work goes on round the clock in these places. On the other hand if you visit Jamia Masjid Delhi, Moti Masjid, Humayun’s tomb, Purana Qila Mosque, and The Taj Mahal in Agra, you can see how the cultural lineage and legacy of our faith is being desecrated and trampled upon day in and day out. These monuments are an identity of our heritage and the mosques are a symbol of our peaceful religion which knows no geographical bounds and cultural barriers.
The Mughal empire, a dynasty which consolidated the modern India and raised the status and stature of the country through new practices of trade and commerce, better road connectivity and also laid the foundation of the greatest military might through their advanced warfare skills, is being maligned by some right wing extremists. If you ever visit the Humayun’s tomb, you can see the place abuzz with tourists but you will feel pained and agonised when you enter the Isa khan mosque situated inside the tomb. Most visitors enter the mosque wearing shoes covered in filth and dust. Camera flashes illuminate the mosque every second with tourists taking pictures in every corner of the mosque. Not even a single hoarding or an inscribed stone telling tourists about the history of the ancient mosque, can be seen around. Although most of the employees are Muslims but none of them forbids the visitors from entering the mosque with their shoes on and from littering the place. Our religion strictly forbids people from entering a mosque while wearing shoes but seems the Muslim caretakers are least bothered about upholding their religious teachings.
The state and central governments too should preserve the cultural and ethnic dignity of every sect and religion to erode the notion of exploitation of one faith over the other. The commissions and trusts entrusted with the preservation of our art and architecture should be regulated to uphold the cause rather than patronise a select group, faith and cultural. The governing councils looking after the ancient monuments should focus on restoring the lost glory of our monuments and tombs and maintaining the sanctity of our mosques and worship places. It is particularly enjoined upon the religious groups and teachers to educate the masses in congregations to offer due respect to our mosques or other religious places whenever they visit such places and also educate the visitors about our past glory.
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