"Vande Mataram" Becomes a Source of Division in Diverse, Secular India

September 1, 2006

Source: BBC News


On September 1, 2006 BBC News reported, "When Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay wrote Vande Mataram, India's national song in 1876, he had no idea that it would one day generate such strong emotions. To sing or not to sing Vande Mataram - that is the dilemma confronting India now as the country prepares to celebrate the song's centenary. At the opposite ends of the spectrum are the Hindu and Muslim hardline groups. The Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) wants all schools, including Muslim madrassas, to sing the song on the chosen date, 7 September. The party has issued directives to the five states where it is in power to ensure that Vande Mataram is sung at all educational institutions on the day... Some Muslim groups say the song is a hymn to the Hindu Goddess, Durga, and it is against the spirit of Islam to sing it... Muslim organisations in some of the BJP-ruled states have threatened to direct members of their community not to send their children to school on 7 September... [Sabyasachi Bhattacharya, author of a book on the song] says Vande Mataram was written in 1876 as a two-stanza song to praise the beauty of the motherland."