A team of the Vidrohi Sanskritik Chalval (Alternate Cultural Movement) visited the Tryambak taluka in Nashik District, had extensive discussions with locals and has made observations about the recent controversy widely reported in sections of the media over the syncretic practice of the “Oop Dhoop ritual during the “sandal procession of Gulabshah is part of the region’s rich cultural syncretic traditions.
“The samadhi of Nivruttinath is here. So Hindus. Muslims, Christians, Dalit Bouddh, Adivasi Nath Community, Naga Sadhus all live here together. Performing the Oodh dhoop ritual/ceremony during the sandal of Gulabshah is an ancient tradition. Today condemnable attempts are being made to provoke disturbance in this harmonious coexistence and Muslim brothers are unnecessarily being criminalized,” says the report.
The entire taluk of Tryambak in Nashik district has a history and long tradition of upholding human values. The majority population living here is from among the Adivasi communities who hold nature sacred. Similarly in this region you see the traditions of Gorakshanath of the Nath tradition, Nivruttinath the elder brother of Gyananath of the Varkari tradition and also some Sufi followers. There is also a mythological reference to this being the kingdom of Queen Shurpanakha.
Last week, around May 13, media reports of a “conflict” there was a dispute around the traditional Arti of Tryambakraja during the Sandal procession of Gulab Shah dargah were splashed in Mumbai editions of newspapers and played up on television channels. The statement given at this point by the Brahman Maha Sangh was a “false complaint (given to) the administration misrepresenting this event that traditionally happens and maliciously misled the common people in this already communalised atmosphere.” States Vidrohi. To get to the bottom of this propaganda and understand the real situation in Tryambak, Dr Jalinder Ghige and Swapnil Dhande, the secretary and deputy secretary of Vidrohi Chalwal visited Tryambak on May 21, 2023.
Speaking to Sabrangindia, Dr Jatinder Ghige said the team was shocked to find that the news relayed by the large sections of the news media “was completely false and tourists, pilgrims and citizens were moving around as usual.” “Apart from the security at the temple’s North Gate where the alleged incident happened, there was no extra police deployment anywhere.” There is more. The report by Vidrohi also states that a “new flex banner announcing that the entry to the temple was restricted to Hindus alone was also not being heeded to. The atmosphere in the temple complex and at other places of worship seemed normal as usual.”
The team spoke to some local citizens. They were clear that in this area the Adivasi population was the largest. They do not believe in any of the established religions. So according to the local people the complaint was given by a “social organization”.
In conversation with BJP leaders the team was given the following information: “90% of the workers in Trimbakeshwar temple are Adivasis and they are in contact with the social organisation so there is no possibility of a riot there. The incident that happened was very minor.”
The report of the Vidrohi states that the tradition of the “Urs” is part of an age-old assimilative tradition and hence the attack on the Oop Dhoop practice is people’s assimilating tolerant traditions. The samadhi of Nivruttinath is here. So Hindus. Muslims, Christians, Dalit Bouddh, Adivasi Nath Community, Naga Sadhus all live here together. Doing an Oodh dhoop during the sandal of Gulabshah is an ancient tradition. Today condemnable attempts are being made to provoke disturbance in this harmonious coexistence and Muslim brothers are unnecessarily being criminalised.
According to the team of the Vidrohi who visited there, the motive behind the move to provoke violence was the ploy to undermine the Karnataka election results. “Organisations affiliated to the RSS tried to create a riot like situation in Maharashtra. The Brahman Mahasangh and the media houses are responsible for creating a hostile environment in the state by using a usual event like this in Tryambak.”
“We as Vidrohi Chalwal strongly condemn this and demand that the Maharashtra state government should register a case against the Brahman Mahasangh for inciting communal violence in the state by spreading false rumours around this incident. We also appeal to ordinary citizens to not fall prey to the vicious and false propaganda of the RSS influenced organisations and media houses. This is a call from the Vidrohi Sanskrutik Chalwal, Maharashtra.”
On May 17, Sabrangindia had carried a report that explained:
The Muslim community leaders have expressed surprise and remorse over this controversy and the move to order a probe into this as the ritual of showing loban or frankincense from the temple entrance steps is a practice that has been followed by local Muslims over the last several decades, reported Indian Express. “There was no attempt to enter the temple or put any chadar inside the temple premises. Muslims in Trimbakeshwar have for generations been following the practice of sending the fumes of frankincense from the steps of the temple premises during an annual gathering at a nearby dargah. This practice has been going on for decades and the local Hindu community has never taken exception to it. We are surprised that this issue has now been raked up and it has taken a communal turn,” Avez Kokni, the former president of the Trimbakeshwar Nagar Parishad, told The Indian Express.
Even a local resident of Trimbakeshwar confirmed that this was an age-old practice and a symbol of syncretism. “Muslims make up a very small percentage of the city’s population and have stayed in harmony. Our city has been peaceful and non-communal which would explain why in spite of being a Muslim, I was accepted as a leader. I am surprised why this age-old custom is now suddenly being questioned,” Parvez Kokni, former chairman of the Nashik District Central Cooperative Bank, told the publication. However, a section of temple trustees have said they do not know of any such tradition.
Members of the Muslim community have submitted to the police evidence such as videos of previous years where a similar ritual was conducted at the entrance of the temple.