New Delhi: In a bizarre move that has left many puzzled, the Dawoodi Bohra sect has issued an advisory to encourage its members to abstain from using western toilets and switch to Indian-style toilets.
Not just that, spiritual leaders of the Bohra community has also advised against lavish wedding arrangements marked by excesses.
The community’s third annual ‘upliftment drive’ in Maharashtra started on an interesting note with the odd advisory.
“This is part of our larger ‘upliftment drive’ and it is not mandatory on anyone. People who think they cannot follow the toilet rule are free to do as they please,” said the official spokesperson of the Bohra community.
According to the community leaders the drive is being conducted keeping in mind the socio-economic essentials of the community and aims to improve the well-being of its members.
More than 21,000 community officials and members comprising clergymen, doctors, lawyers, engineers, architects, businessmen, homemakers and students will set out for over 450 towns and cities across India and 200 cities outside the country to preach these ideals.
Speaking on ‘sangeet’ and dance rituals during weddings, the spokesperson said, “Worldwide, Dawoodi Bohras are encouraged to ensure that their marriage functions are in keeping with the community’s socio-religious ethos and it is the duty of individual jamaats to encourage community members to adhere to those norms.”
The advisory also asks the Bohras to use community venues for weddings looking at their many advantages.
“The wedding venues are designed to allow both the rich and poor to share the same facilities. It should be viewed as an attempt to promote an egalitarian position, which ought to be lauded and not criticized,” he said.
Some members of the Bohra community added that “a few weddings had not only become excessively opulent, they were also leading to certain practices that go against our cultural ethos”.
In their statement to the media on using Indian-style toilets, the Bohra leaders said: “Using western-style toilets is alien to our culture. Moreover, it is an accepted fact that using Indian toilets has certain medical benefits. It is all part of the much wider ongoing upliftment and awareness drive. No one is being forced to change, let alone a person who needs to use a western toilet due to any medical condition. It has been acknowledged that some senior citizens may find it difficult to use Indian-style toilets.”
Bohra community leader Dr Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin, Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin encouraged community members to take out time to volunteer for the ‘upliftment drive’.
The community members have also developed a mobile app to send instructions to volunteers and enable a robust network and feedback system to make sure help is sent where it is required the most. “This will also help in the required follow-up after completion of the five-day drive,” said the spokesperson.
Alifia, a young Bohra girl said, “Every community has its leaders bringing out advisories on important health and hygiene issue. So what is so wrong with this? It is not mandatory. It has been issued in larger interest of the community.”