The ongoing Madhavpur Fair in Gujarat is more than a religious extravaganza this year. It is serving as a platform for New Delhi to reassert to Beijing that India’s Arunachal Pradesh connection is divine, dating back eons.
Recently, Prime Minister Narendra Modi reiterated the folklore that the mythological Rukmini, wedded to Lord Krishna, was from Arunachal. Now, he has gone beyond the strategic link between the Northeast frontier state and the rest of India by turning it into a “divine connection”.
The Madhavpur Fair, which started on Ram Navami, celebrates the Krishna-Rukmini wedding. On the face of it, the fair may appear to be an attempt to retrace the journey of the folklore towards cultural integration but by actively involving Arunachal in it, a message is being sent that the state’s connection with the mainland dates back to the time of Krishna.
Legend has it that Krishna had heroically kidnapped Rukmini, who belonged to Arunachal’s Idu Mishmi tribe, and eloped with her on the day of her swayamvar to prevent an unwanted marriage. Krishna travelled to Madhavpur Ghed, the coastal village in Gujarat where the couple eventually wedded. The Madhav Rai temple in Porbandar has been long celebrating the divine marriage.
Arunachal Chief Minister Pema Khandu and Union minister of state for home Kiren Rijiju, who also hails from Arunachal, are among dignitaries attending the four-day Madhavpur Fair. Over 200 artistes from Arunachal, besides Manipur, are taking part in the religious and cultural extravaganza.
“Yes, the fair is strategic. That much I can tell you. As for the divine connection, the Chief Minister will speak about it in his speech at the fair,” a source in the Arunachal Chief Minister’s Office told The New Indian Express, requesting anonymity.India has long been embroiled in a bitter border dispute with China. Beijing claims that Arunachal, which it calls south Tibet, is part of its territory.