Godmen swamp poll-bound Gujarat

Poll

Series of religious and spiritual events lined up across the state ahead of December elections.

Ahead of the Assembly elections, there is a spurt of religious and spiritual action across Gujarat. While these organisations claim that the timing of events has nothing to do with polls and it is a mere coincidence, certain political parties have expressed apprehensions that they are part of election campaign to mobilise Hindus.

Beginning Friday, Art of Living Foundation guru Sri Sri Ravishanker will hold spiritual discourses in Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Anand, Bharuch and Sabarkantha districts among others. The eight-day programme would culminate in mega event Deepotsav 2012 at the Sardar Patel Stadium on Diwali where nearly 50,000 people are expected.

On the occasion, the Foundation attempts to create a world record for most candles lit at a time at a single place.

Pirana, a village on the outskirts of Ahmedabad, is also hosting a three-day event from November 17 where thousands of sadhus and godmen are expected to descend from across the country for Rashtriya Vedic Dharm Mahadhiveshan. RSS and VHP leaders, including Pravin Togadia, will be addressing the gathering.

Akhil Bhartiya Samiti's president Avichaldasji Maharaj, one of the organisers, had denied that the event has any political bearing. He had said while announcing the plan that Pirana was chosen because of the space and facilities available here. However, not very far from the venue chosen by the organisers, a school run by RSS, lies the historical Sufi Shrine, which over the years has become communally sensitive.

On Thursday, a three-day sant sammellan concluded at the Swaminarayan Gurukul at Chharodi on the city's outskirts where Chief Minister Narendra Modi, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat and VHP leader Ashok Singhal met on Wednesday.

In Vadodara, spiritual guru Asaram Bapu is organising "Tejasvi Yuva Shivir" for youths aged between 18 and 35 years on November 24 and 25. The official website of Bapu claims that the event "targeting youths" is being held for the first time in the last 30 years.

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