The Haryana government is believed to have asked teachers to undergo training to carry out the functions of priests ahead of a religious event in Yamunanagar district, News18 reported on Wednesday. However, Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar denied these reports, saying the order may have been issued by the local administration, not the state.

The directive was issued by the Education Department, according to IANS. The teachers were reportedly asked to carry out religious duties, including distributing prasad, during the four-day-long Kapal Mochan festival.

The training programme was held on October 29. However, several teachers did not participate in the event, News18 reported. The Yamunanagar District Education Officer has sought explanation from the teachers concerned why they had failed to turn up for the programme.

The Bharatiya Janata Party has rejected these claims saying the teachers were only asked to help at the fair in Yamunanagar. “Teachers were called in for prasad distribution at the fair and not asked to take training to become a priest,” Haryana BJP spokesperson Jawahar Yadav told ANI. He further said that around 10-15 teachers were asked to carry out the duties during the festival, which is expected to be attended by nearly five lakh people.

Meanwhile, the teachers’ association has opposed the order. “If the government takes action against us, we will stage state-wide protests,” Jayadev Arya, state advisor to the Haryana Teachers’ Association, told ANI. “A teacher’s job is not to become a priest.”