Banaras Hindu University (BHU), a prestigious university located in Varanasi, has prohibited the celebration of Holi and playing of music within its campus, sparking a backlash from saffron organizations who have deemed the move “anti-Hindu” and are demanding its withdrawal. BHU management has issued a notice warning that failure to comply with the ban will result in severe consequences, and has instructed department heads and hostel wardens to ensure strict adherence. The notice was issued several days prior but only came to public attention on Saturday.
The ban on Holi celebrations at Banaras Hindu University has been strongly criticized by saffron groups, who are demanding its immediate withdrawal. Vinod Bansal, a local leader of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), stated that “Holi is one of the most important festivals of the Hindus…..how can the University ban its celebration?” He also expressed his disbelief at the idea of such a ban in a “Sanatan (Hindu) India”, and stated that warning of action against those who violate the directive is beyond imagination. Bansal further added that the ban appears to be the beginning of attempts to remove the word Hindu from the University.
On 4th March 2023, The BHU has reversed its decision to ban the celebration of Holi on its campus after it was met with strong opposition from students, teachers, and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad. The chief proctor of the university issued an order on Saturday stating that the previous order, Campus Form No. M.A.A.C./2022-2023/2326, which banned public gatherings to celebrate Holi, has been withdrawn. The order also emphasized the need for celebrating the festival with dignity and in a cordial atmosphere. The university received feedback through social media and other channels which contributed to the decision to withdraw the ban.
The directors, faculty heads, and administrative heads were instructed to notify students of the order and ensure its implementation.
The university faced criticism from both students and teachers for issuing an order that restricted the celebration of the colorful festival.
The Vishwa Hindu Parishad also expressed disapproval of the order. Vinod Bansal, a spokesperson for the VHP, highlighted the university’s approval of an iftar during Ramzan and contrasted it with its rejection of Holi celebrations. On his Twitter account, Bansal wrote, “Is this an order or a Tughlaqi decree? Has the Banaras Hindu University started following the path of Jihadi Jamia? Jihadis oppose Holi in Jamia!
Vinod Bansal, a spokesperson of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, criticized the Vice Chancellor of BHU for allowing an Iftar party while banning Holi celebrations, asking why playing music is prohibited in the University’s Shiksha Mandir. Bansal emphasized that Holi is not only a festival but also a symbol of social harmony worldwide. He demanded that the ban on playing Holi on the campus should be lifted.
Later, the chief proctor of BHU informed Aaj Tak/India Today that the previous ban on Holi celebrations applied only to three public places on the campus, including the hospital, the new Vishwanath temple, and the roads, and that the ban had been withdrawn after the backlash.
According to the proctor, students are currently playing Holi on the campus without any issues, and no complaints have been received so far. He added that the university cannot imagine not having Holi celebrations on its campus since Kashi’s Holi is world-famous. The proctor clarified that the previous order banning Holi celebration was misinterpreted.