In the state of Rajasthan, Muslims are protesting against the Gayatri Mantra being played in the labour rooms of two government hospitals. Protesters have complained that they have been told that listening to the chant gives relief to women enduring labour pain. The mantra was being played in the Sirohi district hospital’s labour room for more than a year.
The Rajasthan health department had sent recordings of sounds which would hopefully reduce labour pain, but in Sawai Madhopur, the CHMO insisted that the Gayatri Mantra would be more effective.
According to Dr Tejram Meena, CMHO of Sawai Madhopur, if a woman listens to Gayatri Mantra she wouldn’t feel the pain of labour. He said that the chant was being played in the labour room of their district hospital, which would soon be expanded all the 20 labour rooms at other health centres in the district.
Dr Ashok Aditya, the reproduction and child health officer of Udaipur district said that they are working towards playing the Gayatri Mantri in the labour wards of government hospitals in Udaipur as well.
Special secretary (health) Dr Samit Sharma claimed that the government had only advised district officers to play soothing music and that no direction was given to play religious music.
“We are a secular country and such things cannot be recommended. We have not issued orders asking health department officials to play Gayatri Mantra in labour rooms. We have sent our own audio, which has healing and meditation sounds, to the officials concerned to play these in labour rooms. Maybe some officials are not using the audio that the state has sent. It will be verified,” he said.
A Muslim protester said that according to Islam the first sound that a newborn hears should be that of the Azaan and not the Gayatri Mantra.