Nine folk artists and a well-known newspaper columnist in Gujarat have returned the award received from a sub-sect of the Swaminarayan sect to protest remarks against spiritual leader Morari Bapu. Some leaders of the Laxminarayan Devpith of Vadtal, a sub-group of the Swaminarayan sect, had criticized Morari Bapu over his comments about their use of the term "Neelkanth" or "Neelkanth-varni".
Bapu, known for his discourses on Ram-katha, had said `Neelkanth' is only one, that is Lord Shiva, and others should not use this term. Though he later sought forgiveness, some leaders of the Laxminarayan Devpith demanded a clear apology from him and allegedly made some sharp comments.
One religious leader from the Devpith allegedly also said that folk artists perform after getting drunk. Nine artists and columnist Jay Vasavada have announced in the last two days that they had returned the `Ratnakar' award conferred on them by the Devpith.
These artists included Bhajan singer Hemant Chauhan, folk artists Mayabhai Ahir, Sairam Dave, Dhiru Sarvaiya and Osman Mir. "I firmly believe that Morari Bapu had not insulted anyone during his discourse, because I was there. On the contrary I feel some people insulted both Lord Shiva and Bapu," said Vasavada, who writes for Gujarati newspapers.
"As I had accepted the award in public, I am announcing its return in public," he added. Ahir said Morari Bapu's name was dragged into the controversy for no reason.
"Bapu is a pure and genuine person. He never had any hard feelings for anyone. And yet, some people asked him to tender an apology," said Ahir..
(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)