After outrage, GoI cancels ‘Asikni’ festival

Jammu, Aug 02: Following a massive outrage over using Adi Shankaracharya’s picture and invitation to relish Wazwan platter, the Union Ministry of Culture, has cancelled forthcoming ‘Asikni’ festival.

As per reports, Union Minister of Culture Meenakshi Lekhi had planned a grand Asikni festival from August 3 to August 5 at Sovereign, Le Meridian in the national capital.

Meenakshi Lekhi personally invited everyone to “Asikni” with warm message.

“Ministry of Culture invites you to ‘Asikni’, the grand celebration of the ancient heritage and syncretic culture of Jammu and Kashmir,” the invitation card shared by the Minister reads.

The other leaf of the card carries a picture of Adi Shankaracharya, the Indian Vedic scholar and Hindu spiritual teacher and an invitation to relish Wazwan, a multi-course meal in Kashmiri cuisine that mostly consists of meat-based dishes.

Adi Shankaracharya and Wazwan on same platform evoked a massive row on social media, with people alleged that it has hurt the religious sentiments.

The social media users across the country and abroad expressed their anguish and sought course correction of the poster.

People demanded that poster should portray Jammu and Kashmir’s true history and culture and just promote Kashmir.

In Jammu, Rashtriya Bajrang Dal also staged a massive protest and burnt effigy of BJP leader and Union Minister Meenakshi Lekhi.

Moreover, the social media users continued with a virtual crusade and compelled the ministry to rethink over the event.

Tagging union minister Meenakshi Lekhi, a twitter user Sunanda Vashisht wrote, “Ma’am @MLekhiOffice, @MinOfCultureGoI: It is factually wrong to club Adi Shankaracharya with Wazwan. Adi Shankara had nothing to do with Wazwan. Wazwan is amongst the newer cuisines. Kashmir is many centuries older than Wazwan. Let’s celebrate Adi Shankara’s Kashmir.”’

Former deputy chief minister and BJP leader Kavinder Gupta also questioned the intention behind holding such festival, which allegedly hurt Hindu sentiments.

“Asikani Devi is the ancient name of the river Chenab (Jammu Province). Wazwan is a Kashmiri dish made from beef, lamb and chicken. Shankaracharya: Advaita is the pinnacle of Vedanta (Sanatan). What kind of amalgamation is this? There is no conspiracy to hurt Hindu sentiments,” Kavinder tweets.

Founder of UK based Voice of Dogra organization and activist Manu Khajuria writes, “Falsehoods & forced homogenisations of JK’s Sanatani cultures into one Kashmiri identity reflects the bad policy on JK. Asikni, Rig Vedic name for Chenab, is the civilisational cradle of #Jammu region. Kashmiri Wazwan & Asikni is jarring & a dangerous narrative. The separatists in JK have nurtured the “Greater Kashmir” plan wherein they eat away into the Jammu region, by cultural misappropriation & communalism. This seems to be an extension of the same. Also Adi Shankracharya and a meat based meal like Wazwaan is inconceivable.”

Moreover, another use Ritu Rathaur, a Hindu Rights activist wrote, “Ministry of culture under 56 is organising Kashmiri food festival with Wazwan (red meat) with picture of Adi Shankracharya on it..?? Speechless! Even anti Hindu congress did not have audacity to insult Hindus like this. Is this acceptable to u O Hindus? Wazwan is a multi course meal in Kashmiri cuisine. Almost all dishes are made from beef, lamb and chicken. Since when it’s associated with Adi Shankaracharya ji? Idea is to insult, mock and hurt traditional Hindus as namajis do. Shameful.”

Following the outrage, Ministry of Culture canceled the forthcoming event. “Important update: Asikni, the festival to celebrate the heritage and culture of Jammu and Kashmir, which was to be held from 3rd to 5th August has been cancelled,” the official handle of the Ministry of Culture informed. Earlier, the ministry deleted the invitation poster from its twitter account.

The people appreciated the step and appealed government of India to do a history and culture research before landing in such controversies.kno

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