The festival of Navratri seems to have been caught in the crosshairs of communal politics, and just days after right-wing Hindutva politicians asked for a ban on Muslims in garba events, a Muslim cleric has now gone on to attack the popular festival of Gujarat.
Sufi Imam Mehndi Hussain, who was earlier in the limelight after Narendra Modi rejected his offer of wearing the former's skull cap three years ago, has called Navratri an 'entertainment for rakshasas'.
"Garba is not a religious festival but entertainment for rakshasas (demons)," he said, as reported by The Times of India. "Sadhus and saints are not seen at garbas. Film actors and people with criminal backgrounds dance in provocative clothes," he said on Sunday.
The nine-day festival is one of the biggest in Gujarat and is set to begin on 25 September.
Hussain's remarks come close in line of a diktat by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad to not allow Muslims into garba events. The VHP has now demanded the arrest of the imam.
"The imam should be arrested. If he's not, we will hand him over to the police," Ranchhod Bharwad, the general secretary of VHP Gujarat, told the TOI.
There have also been other ridiculous statements by several BJP members in the recent past, who said the Muslim boys come to the garba events to woo Hindu girls into marriage, adding to their conspiracy theory of 'Love Jihad'.
A BJP MLA had earlier directed Garba organisers in Madhya Pradesh to prohibit Muslim boys from entering the venue for dance programmes, citing that the event had become a means of wooing Hindu girls.
Another right-wing radical group, the Hindu Asmita Heet Rakshak Samiti has also propagated similar views.