Jharkhand: India bans tourism at holy Jain site after protests

Image credit: BBC

The Indian government has banned tourists from a significant Jain pilgrimage site.

Sammed Shikharji is found in an environmentally vulnerable area on top of the tallest hill in the state of Jharkhand.

Drinking alcohol and eating meat are two instances of “defiling the site” behaviours that the administration has requested the state to restrict.

The Jain community is a religious minority with roughly 4.5 million members.

Jains who are devoted to their religion follow its precepts under the spiritual guidance of monks. These offer comprehensive instructions for living, especially regarding what to eat, what not to eat, and when to eat.

Locals fear that tourism to the Jharkhand pilgrimage site may lessen the sacredness of the land.

Members have been opposing the state government’s decision to turn the area into a tourist attraction for a few weeks.

The environment ministry approved tourism-related activities at the site’s location, Parasnath Hill, in 2019 on the advice of the state government.

It wrote to the state administration on Thursday to let them know how important the land was to both the local community and the entire nation.

It demanded the immediate cessation of all “tourist and eco-tourism” activities there and the upholding of all regulations pertaining to eco-sensitive zones.

The use of “loud music, the sale and consumption of intoxicants, the desecration of places of religious and cultural significance, and actions that potentially harm the local ecology” are all prohibited.

According to Environment Minister Bhupendra Yadav’s tweet, the federal government is dedicated to “maintaining and defending the rights of the Jain community over all their sacred places, including Sammed Shikhar.”

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