The Rajasthan government has designated January 22, the date on which the Ram temple in Uttar Pradesh’s Ayodhya was consecrated this year, as an annual “festival” to be observed in schools, reported The Times of India.

“The Ram temple consecration day has been included in the calendar as it is a historic day,” the newspaper quoted Rajasthan’s school education minister Madan Dilawar as saying. “We are consulting experts on how this day can be observed in schools. There will be no holiday on January 22, and it will be celebrated by students of all classes, from classes 1 to 12.”

The calendar issued by the state’s school education department for parents lists various topics to be discussed with students and mentions the festivals that will be celebrated in schools during the academic year.

The Ram temple in Ayodhya is built on the site of the Babri mosque, which was demolished by Hindutva extremists in December 1992 because they believed that it stood on the spot where the Hindu deity Ram was born. The incident had triggered communal riots across the country.

The temple was inaugurated in a ceremony led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on January 22, while parts of it were still under construction.

The Rajasthan government has not detailed how the “festival” will be celebrated on January 22, 2025, but the school calendar provides general directions on how to observe festivals and significant days.

The move has drawn criticism from civil rights groups who say that it runs contrary to the secular fabric of the country, reported Deccan Herald.

The People’s Union for Civil Liberties, a human rights group, demanded that the government revoke the decision.

It said that celebrating the consecration of a temple in schools goes against constitutional values and seems like an attempt to build up a particular narrative that is likely to hurt the sentiments of other communities.

The state government had earlier made the yoga practice of Surya Namaskar compulsory in schools, drawing criticism from Muslim groups.

“It [Ram temple festival] is only being implemented in schools to score political brownie points and there is nothing remotely religious about the whole move,” the newspaper quoted Kavita Srivastav, national president of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties, as saying. “In fact, many pundits had said that the day was not auspicious enough. And celebrating it across schools would definitely send a wrong message amongst our future generation.”

She said that the consecration of the temple should be seen “as an act of erasure of the secular history of a plural and diverse Indian republic”.