Call for sex book ban at temples lined with erotic art

Pictures of the temples of Khajuraho which feature a wide variety of erotic sculpture
Image caption The temples of Khajuraho feature a wide variety of erotic sculpture

Some social media users in India are seething over a Hindu group's demand to ban a famous ancient book on love and sex in temples which are widely known for their erotic sculptures.

The leader of the little-known Bajrang Sena group was outraged at the reading material being hawked inside the world-famous Khajuraho temples.

"These temples have religious significance…. How can you allow Kamasutra to be sold in the sacred premises?" Jyoti Agarwal told the Hindustan Times. "What sort of moral values are we passing on to our younger generation?"

The group asked the police to step in, arguing that selling the book in a holy place is an affront to Indian culture.

But Twitter users were quick to point out an apparent contradiction: the Khajuraho temples are widely known for their sculptures, including stone carvings of men and women in various sexual positions.

"Did they look at the walls of the Khajuraho temple before asking for this?" asked one Twitter user. Another posted a picture of some of the statues with the message: "That awkward moment when those protesting the sale of Kamasutra books at Khajuraho look up at the temples."

When asked by the Hindustan Times, Agarwal said she wasn't opposed to the sculptures remaining in the temples, but argued that they shouldn't be heavily promoted.

Her view didn't stop thousands of critics of Bajrang Sena, a right-wing nationalist group, from tweeting about the controversy, many using the hashtag "Khajuraho".

Image copyright Twitter
Image copyright Twitter

A Unesco world heritage site, the Khajuraho temples attract millions of tourists from across the world. The group of about 20 temples in India's central Madhya Pradesh state were built over a thousand years ago and belong to two different religions - Hinduism and Jainism.

The debate over erotic art is the latest episode in India's culture wars, with some arguing that Hindu nationalist groups have become bolder since the arrival of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the national scene in 2014. But amid all the outrage, there were plenty of jokes.

"Sexual reproduction is against Indian culture," Facebook user Vageesh Vishnoi sarcastically wrote. "Please use morally approved techniques like parthenogenesis and binary fission."

"Could it be that the only purpose of sites like Khajuraho was pornographic?" tweeted @CholericCleric. "For all we know they had a subscription based business model."

Blog by Vineet Khare

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