NEW DELHI: After more than a decade, Rashtrapati Bhavan will give the annual ritual of iftar a miss.
The practice of breaking bread at the end of roza (fast), during the holy month of Ramzan, has been an annual feature at Rashtrapati Bhavan for several years, except 2002-2007, when the then president APJ Abdul Kalam discontinued it. Kalam had directed the funds meant for iftar towards orphanages. The ritual of hosting the iftar party was resumed when Pratibha Patil became president. Her successor Pranab Mukherjee continued the tradition.
Ashok Malik, press secretary to President Kovind, confirmed the development. “Rashtrapati Bhavan is the embodiment of a secular state. Matters of religion and governance have to be kept separate. On tax payers’ expense, the building does not host any religious function irrespective of the religion involved.”
Notably, carol singing during Christmas also did not take place in Rashtrapati Bhavan last year under Kovind’s tenure. Till 2016, carols were never given a miss at the majestic monument. Pratibha Patil cancelled the traditional Christmas celebrations in 2008 as a mark of respect to the victims of the Mumbai terror attack on November 26.
TNIE spoke to Archana Datta, who was the press secretary to Pratibha Patil. She recalled how all festivals used to be celebrated at the iconic building during Patil’s time. “The tradition of celebrating festivals has been going on in Rashtrapati Bhavan for a very long time and such celebrations were only given a miss during emergency natural calamities or terror attacks,” she said.