Taiwan: People protest against incense ban, Hindu leader backs them

More than 10,000 people marched in Taipei, the capital of Taiwan, on Sunday.

Mostly Taoists, the colorful and peaceful procession against the government were taken out in response to an alleged attempt on the part of the government of Taiwan to limit the burning of incense and usage of paper money during religious ceremonies.

Firecracker burning too was a sore point for the protestors who found all this as an infringement on their religious rights.

However, the peaceful and the colorful demonstration proved to be also a sort of spectacle as well as the people across the world were mesmerized by this unique combination.

But, this protest is a little weird because, on July 21st, the government denied any such moves, reported the Focus Taiwan.

The Presidential Office issued a denial this Friday and said that no such plans were being mulled upon.

Presidential Office spokesman Sidney Lin (林鶴明) was quoted by Focus Taiwan as saying that the recent reports on the Internet that the government will “terminate” the incense-burning tradition and clamp down on religious freedom by setting regulations to guide religious activities are nothing more than rumors.

“In a democratic country, freedom of faith is a basic right. No government can or will interfere with religious freedom,” assured Lin.
In his statement Lin also said that the government is well aware that burning incense and ghost money is a long-standing practice in Taiwan and that the relevant authorities will try to acquire a balance between environmental protection and traditional beliefs in its efforts to reduce air pollution.

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Further, he was quoted by the focus Taiwan as saying that “with respect to local customs, the government will encourage temples to reduce the burning of incense and ghost money and improve quality controls on the ghost money and incense used at temples, while trying to gradually change the mindsets of temple-goers.”

However, all this reassuring didn’t do the job as the Sunday procession made it clear.

Hindu leader joins Taoists on incense ban

Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that incense restrictions would be an unnecessary obtrusion on Hindu devotees, who had been waving incense in front of the images of deities for ages as an act of homage to the divine manifestation.

Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, indicated that attempts at regulating incense usage would be a religious infringement as incense was very important part of offerings in Hinduism and used in daily puja rituals while worshipping deities.

Religious use of incense had ancient origins and incense burners were said to have been found in Indus Valley Civilization (2500-1800 BCE). Taiwan was a diverse society now and there were considerable numbers of adherents of Hinduism, Rajan Zed noted.

Zed urged Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen, Premier Lin Chuan and Environmental Protection Administration Minister Ying-Yuan Lee to relook into the incense restrictions proposals so that all Taiwanese could continue practicing their religious traditions freely and without any unnecessary government regulations.

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