How Violence Has Marred Ram Navami Celebrations In Recent Years

In the recent years, Ram Navami celebrations have resulted in violent clashes across the nation. What is essentially a celebration of the birth of Lord Ram has taken a violent turn from 2017 onwards.

Ram Navami and Violence Over The Years Photo: PTI

In recent years, Ram Navami celebrations have taken a turn for the violent. Marred with clashes and riots, processions to celebrate the birthday of Lord Ram have been accompanied with stones, knives and even guns since 2017. As we move on to the celebrations for this year, a hint previous years violence carries on.

Ram Navami is a Hindu festival celebrating the birthday of Lord Ram, one of the most revered Gods in Hinduism. The festival also marks the end of the Chaitra Navratri festival.

A day before Ram Navami, Calcutta High Court granted permission to the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Anjani Putra Sena to carry out processions in Howrah, West Bengal.

Applauding the move, Prime Minister Narendra Modi hit out at the TMC government led by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, accusing them of trying to stop Ram Navami celebrations in the state. However, the West Bengal CM has further accused the BJP of trying to invoke communal tensions.

Since 2017, West Bengal has seen clashes during Ram Navami celebrations and last year was no different. Clashes broke out in Howrah, Dalkhola and other cities in the eastern state. However, Bengal is not the only state where Ram Navami celebrations were met with violence.   

Ram Navami and Violence - A Lookback

In 2023, Ram Navami celebrations turned violent in at least six states - West Bengal, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Gujarat.

West Bengal reported violence from Howrah, Hooghly, Shibpur and Dalkhola. Across the cities, vehicles were torched, shops were ransacked, and stones were pelted. The clashes in Bengal also resulted in the death of one person and left several others injured.

In Maharashtra, a brawl between two men outside a Ram Temple in Aurangabad escalated into a clash as people pelted stones and torched vehicles. These clashes resulted in the death of a 51-year-old man and injured many. Along with Aurangabad, clashes broke out in Malad and Jalgaon.

Violence also broke out in Gujarat, where two Ram Navami processions were attacked in Vadodara. The processions carried out by VHP were attacked in the Fatehpur area. While the exact reason of the clash remains unclear, reports and videos on social media showed the mob making communally charged remarks during the procession, which resulted in an escalation.

Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh also reported violent clashes during Ram Navami. In both the states, clashes escalated as Ram Navami processions passed mosques on their paths.   

Furthermore, in Bihar, clashes erupted after a Ram Navami procession tried to enter the Hazratganj Mohalla area, for which permission had been denied.

Apart from these six states, Haryana also reported communal tensions during Ram Navami after members from a procession hoisted their flags over a mosque and engaged in communal sloganeering during the procession.  

Violence during Ram Navami is not a rare occurrence but was comparatively limited. Between 2012 to 2015, a few clashes were reported from West Bengal, Jharkhand, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.

However, from 2017 onwards instances of violent clashes during the festival increased. In 2018, 17 incidents of clashes or riots across the nation were reported and in 2022, five states (Jharkhand, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Goa) and the national capital New Delhi also reported violence during Ram Navami.