The Paryaya Sri Pejavara Adhokshaja Matha in Udupi caught national attention after an Iftaar was held for Muslim residents of the temple town in Karnataka. While the move was hailed by many as a reflection of communal harmony in the country, some fringe groups including Ram Sene slammed the Matt calling it an insult to Hindus.
However, Sri Vishvesha Teertha Swamiji, the head of the Matha played down the controversy saying there was nothing new in this event and it has been happening for years. In an interview with Bangalore Mirror he said, “During the recent festival, we organised food for the Muslims, there is no need to make an issue out of it. There is nothing new about it. It is not something that has never taken place. In all Paryayas we offer food to all communities. The only difference is this time I invited them.”
Lauding Muslim community for standing by them at times of need Swamiji said,” When there was an attempt to gherao Krishna mutt in the name of Udupi chalo, then the Muslims stood by us. They have always supported us.”
“In places such as Bhatkal and Gangavathi,Muslims have invited me to their homes as well as to inaugurate mosques. In Bhatkal and Kasargod I was honoured by the Muslims. Muslims has always extended support and co-operated in our activities,” he told the daily.
When asked why he allowed Namaz in temple premises, Swamiji said,” Namaz is a prayer offered by Muslims to God. There is nothing that maligns Hindu religion in it,”
When asked about inviting people who eat beef, the chief priest quipped that Not just Muslims, there are many Hindus too who eat beef. Hindus or Muslims, attempts must be made to convince beef eaters to stop eating through peaceful means.