The places of Worship Act 1991, decoloniality and indigenous rights

The Daily Guardian

The Bhoomi Pujan for the proposed Shri Ram Temple in Ayodhya is scheduled to take place in five days, marking the culmination of a five-century old indigenous movement to reclaim a site which is of both religious and civilizational importance. In all the years that the issue has been hotly debated in independent Bharat, it has been typically approached through the lens of “communal politics”, especially by those who have believed and continue to believe that the reconstruction of the Shri Ram Temple would cause fissures in the secular fabric of Bharat, or in their words “the idea of India”. Unfortunately, the issue has either never been adequately understood or perhaps clearly articulated from the perspective of indigeneity and through the framework of decoloniality in most circles which have an opinion on the issue and its history.

In fact, those who cite considerations of secularism and social harmony to countenance their opposition to the construction of the Temple at the hitherto disputed site, have rarely attempted to understand the issue from the perspective of decoloniality. Interestingly, such opposition has mostly come from colonialized elites and those who hold them in high regard, which pits them against the native who continues to believe in and practice her tradition despite lacking in suave and politically correct representation of her cause. Seldom has one come across a layered perspective from the opponents of the Temple which strikes a balance between the rights of adherents of faiths which are indigenous to the civilization and the legitimate interest in preserving communal harmony.

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