The Indian government is trying to woo the world’s largest democracy by turning its back on a tradition that has been around for more than 3,000 years.
On Wednesday, it announced that it would not allow any religious or ethnic group to host open houses, and instead will focus on “reinforcing its secular character.”
The announcement came as part of a broader government effort to build a more cohesive, inclusive India that can compete with the United States and China, which have made major investments in Hinduism and Christianity.
But there’s one area where Hinduism remains an anomaly.
In many parts of India, the practice of opening the doors to worship is forbidden.
The Indian government also wants to turn India into a secular nation, but its efforts have been met with opposition from powerful religious and political parties.
The issue of opening houses for worship was raised by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a meeting of the National Advisory Council on Religious Affairs, an advisory group of his ministry that includes representatives from religious leaders, scholars and government officials.
Modi told the group that open houses were “not a Hindu tradition,” and he called for “the abolition of religious establishments and the eradication of any discrimination against any religion.”
The Hindu community has long been a powerful political force in India, but the BJP has never held power.
In recent years, the party has focused on appealing to Hindu nationalism and has pushed for a greater role for women in politics.
The BJP has a strong grip on the country’s biggest state, Gujarat, and is expected to win in the 2019 general election, where it would be the second-largest party.
The Hindu nationalist Hindu Mahasabha, a powerful religious party, has called for the elimination of open houses for religious purposes.