Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti

Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti (MANS; or Committee for Eradication of Blind Faith, CEBF) is an organisation dedicated to fighting superstition in India, particularly in the province of Maharashtra. It was founded by Narendra Dabholkar in 1989.[1] It is currently headed by Avinash Patil after Dabholkar's assassination.[2]

History and work

It was founded by Narendra Dabholkar in 1989.[1] In 1999, MANS had protested the canonisation of Mother Teresa on the basis of purported miracles, but they had praised her service to the ailing and diseased.[3]

The organisation has also campaigned against immersion of Ganesha idols in water bodies. They have been urging people to use smaller idols and vegetable dyes to avoid polluting rivers and lakes.[4] They have urged people to immerse the idols into the tanks built specially for this purpose on the riverbanks.[5]

They have protested the torture of mentally ill people under the superstitious belief that it will cure them. Such practices are carried out in a dargah in Chalisgaon.[6]

MANS has also challenged godmen who claim to perform miracles. In December 2002, a prize of 11 lakh was announced to be given to anyone who could perform one of the listed 12 miracles. The list included walking on water, floating in air, standing on hot coals for five minutes, being present in two places simultaneously and materialising necklaces from thin air, among others. Members of MANS toured rural areas debunking these godmen.[7]

They have campaigned against astrology. In October 2009, MANS organised a contest with a prize money of 21 lakh challenging astrologers to predict the results of the Maharashtra Assembly poll election with at least 80% accuracy.[8]

Anti-Superstition and Black Magic Bill

MANS had been campaigning for a law to check the exploitation of people's superstitions in Maharashtra for a long time. In 1989 at the Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Jahirnama Parishad held that year in Pune, then Chief minister Sharad Pawar had indicated the formation of a law in that direction. The issue was raised again in 1995 in the Legislative Council. On 28 July 2003, MANS members organised a hunger strike outside the State Assembly in Mumbai to protest the state's inaction.[9]

On 2 March 2009, MANS members wrote a letter in blood and sent to then Chief Minister Ashok Chavan and others to urge them to take steps towards the passing of the law.[10] On 7 April 2011, they organised a rally to spread awareness about the law.[11] They also ran telegram-sending campaign from 7 July to 25 July 2011 to draw attention to the issue. The telegrams were sent to the Chief Minister.[12]

Dabholkar was murdered on 20 August 2013. The pending Anti-Superstition and Black Magic Ordinance was promulgated in the state of Maharashtra, four days after his death.[13]

References

  1. 1 2 "He was not against God but fought exploitation". The Hindu. 21 August 2013. Retrieved 23 October 2013.
  2. "Avinash Patil to take over reins of MANS". The Indian Express. 30 August 2013. Retrieved 23 October 2013.
  3. "Don't ascribe miracles to Mother Teresa". The Indian Express. 23 October 1999. Retrieved 23 October 2013.
  4. "Samiti appeals against immersion of idols". 18 September 1999. Retrieved 23 October 2013.
  5. "Pune Municipal Corporation failed to curb river pollution". DNA India. 16 September 2011. Retrieved 23 October 2013.
  6. "Stop inhuman treatment of mentally ill at Chalisgaon, demands organisation". DNA India. 30 November 2011. Retrieved 23 October 2013.
  7. "State-wide drive against godmen under way". The Times of India. 11 December 2002. Retrieved 23 October 2013.
  8. "Predict poll results in Maharashtra, win Rs 21 lakh!". The Indian Express. 14 October 2009. Retrieved 23 October 2013.
  9. "Hunger strike planned for anti-superstition law". The Indian Express. 8 July 2003. Archived from the original on 16 July 2003. Retrieved 23 October 2013.
  10. "ANS members write letters in blood". The Times of India. 3 March 2009. Retrieved 23 October 2013.
  11. "Rally to press for anti-superstition bill". The Times of India. 5 April 2011. Retrieved 23 October 2013.
  12. "Putting pressure: Cable campaign for anti-superstition bill". DNA India. 8 July 2011. Retrieved 23 October 2013.
  13. "The anti-black magic and superstition ordinance has been promulgated in Maharashtra". DNA India. 24 August 2013. Retrieved 23 October 2013.

Further reading

  • Johannes Quack (2011). "Recent History of Organized Rationalism in Maharashtra". Disenchanting India: Organized Rationalism and Criticism of Religion in India. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199812608. 
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