It is a development involving two of India’s enduring obsessions -- religion and Bollywood films.
A leading Muslim cleric in India has complained that movie actors from Mumbai’s film colony have been mis-using a leading Islamic shrine by praying for the success of their movies.
Zainul Abedin Ali Khan, who is the chief of an organization that oversees the Ajmer shrine in Rajasthan, is appalled by this practice because most Bollywood films, he claims, are “sinful” and contrary to the teachings of the Holy Quran.
According to reports, the cream of Bollywood - including Shahrukh Khan, Katrina Kaif, Kareena Kapoor, Deepika Padukone and Amitabh Bachchan, Ashwariya Rai among many others -- have visited the shrine.
Of the aforementioned list, only Shahrukh Khan and Kaif are Muslims.
Many film stars come here with [a] CD or DVD of their work and offer it while praying for the success of the film or serial, whatever it is, which is absolutely against the Islamic law, Zainul Khan told reporters, according to the Press Trust of India.
They are using the holy place, a prime centre of religious belief, for purely commercial purposes and for degrading moral values among people.”
He added: Most of the films today are full of obscenity, double meaning words and expressions. It is hateful and sinful. I strongly condemn and object to the visit of film actors, actresses, directors and producers to the [shrine] to seek blessings for such things which are taboo.
The Ajmer shrine, in honor of the Sufi saint Hazrat Khawaja Moinuddin Chisti, who died in the 13th century, brings millions of pilgrims from around the world every year.
The cleric has also complained about the wardrobe of actors who came to the shrine, including a man who wore a burqa and an actress who was adorned in a skirt.
This is to attract attention and it is highly objectionable, he said.
However, not everyone agrees with Khan.
“Those who have faith in Khawaja come here irrespective of caste and creed. They come here for the great saint Khawaja and bow to him, not [Khan], said Wahid Hussain Chisti, Secretary of Anjuman Committee, a body that represents khadims [Rajasthani Muslims] who supervises pilgrimages in the shrine.
It is totally an objectionable stand. People come here with their wish and pray to Khawaja Sahib. It is between the Khawaja and the devotee.
Qutbuddin Sakhi, a khadim, explained to Indian media that producers and actors and actresses typically come to the shrine with an original print of their movies, seeking blessings for success.
Many of them come with first print, which only contains the names of director/producers/actor/actress/crew, not the entire film and they seek blessings for the success of their performance. I do not think that there should be any objection to this, he said.
Palash has worked as a business journalist for 21 years in New York.