Jaipur: The Rajasthan government has denied reports that Gayatri mantra was mandatorily being played in labour rooms of government hospitals.

State Health Minister Raghu Sharma told ANI on Thursday, “It’ s a rumour. This issue came to my notice earlier too and I have directed officials that no such decision has been taken by the government.”

Earlier, Special Secretary (Health) Dr Samit Sharma had claimed that the state government had only advised hospitals to play healing and meditation sounds in labour rooms. “Complaints about playing Gayatri mantra will be verified…We are a secular country and such things can’t be recommended. We have not issued any order asking authorities to play Gayatri mantra in labour rooms. We have sent our own audio, which has healing and meditation sounds. It’s possible that some officials are not using the audio we have sent,” he told a daily.

However, Sawai Madhopur Chief Medical and Health Officer had confirmed to the daily, “We are playing Gayatri mantra in the labour room of our district hospital. We will soon expand it to all the 20 labour rooms at other health centres in the district.”

“If a woman listens to Gayatri mantra, she does not feel the pain of labour,” CMHO Dr Tejram Meena had said. Udaipur was also set to play the Gayatri mantra in the labour room of the government-run medical college.

Meanwhile, Muslims activists have begun protests against the practice. A protester pointed out that according to Islam, the first voice to go in the ears of a newborn should be that of Azaan.

A daily said that protesters took their grievance to Minister Sharma. They said they had been told that listening to the chant gave relief to women in labour pain.