Wah Taj says Guv, but steers clear of controversy

THE GOAN NETWORK | MAY 15, 2022, 12:33 AM IST

Goa Governor PS Sreedharan Pillai on Saturday made a case for art and literature to work towards “unity and integrity” and briefly waded into the history of the Taj Mahal but steered clear of the ongoing controversy over the monument.

“My firm opinion is that through the means of art and literature, we can assure unity and integrity…” Pillai said while delivering his inaugural address at the Kumaon Literary Festival in Panaji.

Bibek Debroy, who heads the Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council, noted filmmaker Rahul Rawail and the travelling festival’s founder Sumant Batra were on the dais.

“Noor Jahan, I think at her thirteenth delivery she lost her life. Then on the spur of the moment at the time of her death...just like a dying declaration, she demanded one thing... Shah Jahan, my dear, you please don’t marry again. Look after my children,” Pillai said, adding that the ‘memorial’ for her (Taj Mahal) was another demand she made.

Pillai also said history was silent on the question of whether Shah Jahan ever got the chance to visit the monument and pay homage to his beloved wife.

The controversy raked up by right-wing organisations over the monument, recognised as one of the wonders of the world, relates to the claim that it was allegedly built on land which previously housed temples. 

Earlier this week, the Allahabad High Court dismissed a petition seeking a facts finding committee to study and publish the real History of Taj Mahal. The petition had another plea seeking that sealed rooms in the basement be opened to put the controversy at rest of whether idols are stored there which the court also rejected saying the demand was “not justiciable” and best left to historians and academicians.

Batra, who founded the festival, meanwhile said in his address that Goa was the best-suited location outside of Uttarakhand to host the festival and added that he was also setting up the Indian Cinema Heritage Foundation here.

“Goa is still a place where people take out time to read, spend time with the family, attend events… It has such a rich language of its own, in which such great literature has been written which of course needs to be translated more, to be able to make it more accessible,” Batra said. 

“I’m trying to do my bit by bringing together people to discuss, ideate about subjects, ideate about literature, ideate other parts of art and try and contribute to the building of the soft power of this country,” he added. 

Founded in 2014, the not-for-profit Kumaon Literary Festival has held many successful editions attended by hundreds of literary luminaries and thinkers from across the world and is produced by the Indian Cinema Heritage Foundation, a public charitable trust registered in Divar.

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