ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Of Devadasis, Tradition and Politics

religiousness rather than anti-religiousness of state and polity. This means that people should reject any politics which attempts to encourage or discourage any religion or interfere in any religious practices. Religion and religious institutions should be discouraged from supporting political parties. Everybody should respect the right of the other to follow any religion and also the right not to follow any religion. The slate would be empowered to regulate the secular activities of a religious trusts and charitable institutions. Secularism does not mean merely separation of state and religion but also that the state would not interfere in any community and would allow all identities to grow and develop without coming in conflict with each other. If true and democratic secularism has to succeed, the present hegemonistic 'secularism', which has come to mean equal respect for fundamentalists of all religion, has to be rejected and defeated. That may not be possible without defeating the class that is behind such secularism and whose purpose it serves. Thus, the struggle for establishing democratic secularism has also to be a struggle for social change. Since the ruling classes derive their legitimacy and backing from the imperialists, the struggle for SEPTEMBER 11, 1995 will go down in history as Orissa's 'black day', as reports of an 'interview' to select a devadasi for the Jagannatha temple at Puri appeared in the media. Fixed at a time when the Beijing conference was in session, this incident raises many questions about our so-called journey into the 21st century. The fact that the management of the Puri temple is under the state government since 1960 makes the situation both intriguing and ridiculous. What is striking is that the idea of holding such an interview ' is about seven years old. Moreover, the silence of the Congress(I) government regarding the matter makes it a pany to the happenings. After all, the decision to call 'suitable' candidates for the interview was taken during Janaki Ballav Patnaik's previous tenure as chief minister. Electoral considerations, with the 1996 general elections round the corner, seem to have a distinct bearing on this feature secular change will also be opposed by the global powers that be. The struggle tor secularism has to be in that respect, part and parcel of global struggle against the hegemony of the first world.

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