In a notable development amid a contentious situation in India, a city in the United States, Louisville, Kentucky, has officially designated September 3 as “Sanatana Dharma Day.” This decision comes in the wake of a controversy ignited in India by remarks made by Tamil Nadu minister and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) leader, Udhayanidhi Stalin, concerning Sanatana Dharma.
Mayor Craig Greenberg of Louisville, Kentucky, took this significant step, emphasizing the importance of recognizing and respecting diverse religious beliefs. The declaration of Sanatana Dharma Day was accompanied by a solemn gathering attended by esteemed spiritual leaders, including Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Chidanand Saraswati, the president of Parmarth Niketan in Rishikesh, and Bhagawati Saraswati. The event also witnessed the presence of Lieutenant Governor Jacqueline Coleman.
The controversy in India arose when Udhayanidhi Stalin, during a conference in Chennai, likened “Sanatana” to diseases like malaria and dengue, stating that they should not just be opposed but eradicated. These remarks sparked intense criticism from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), leading to legal actions against Udhayanidhi Stalin and Congress leader Priyank Kharge for allegedly “hurting religious sentiments.”
In a retaliatory move, an FIR was filed against BJP’s IT cell head, Amit Malviya, for purportedly “spreading misinformation” and “distorting” Udhayanidhi Stalin’s statements. Udhayanidhi Stalin has since issued a statement, expressing his commitment to addressing the legal challenges with the support of his party leadership.
This declaration in the United States adds a new dimension to the ongoing debate surrounding religious sensitivities and freedom of expression, both in India and on the international stage.