Hindus worldwide are preparing for the nine-day festival of Navratri, which celebrates the goddess Durga. In India's westernmost state known as Gujarat, these celebrations, which include colorful displays of song and dance, will be closed to non-Hindus in residential neighborhoods. Citing "love jihad," or attempts made by Muslim men to supposedly lure Hindu women into marriage, the right-wing Hindu Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) issued a pronouncement barring non-Hindus from attending.
The group's general secretary Ranchhod Bharwad is quoted in Business Standard stating:
"We warn all the non-Hindus, be it Muslims or Christians, to refrain from entering the garba venues across the state. Such Hindu festivals are used as a tool by Muslim boys to lure our girls. Such a ban is necessary to stop love jihad incidents," he added.
"Apart from love jihad, it has to be kept in mind that Navratri is a sacred religious festival of Hindus. Thus, it is not proper to encourage others to be part of it. Apart from taking measures from our side, we will also convince societies to implement this ban at their level," said Bharwad.
Those Muslims, who still want to enjoy garba, will be given an option to convert to Hinduism at the venue, he said.