Dehradun, July 9: If the Uttarakhand school education department has its way, 12 lakh students across the 18,000-odd schools would be chanting a Bhojan Mantra (a mantra for food) before having the mid-day meals. The mantra will also be painted on the walls of the school kitchens, said a report in The Indian Express. Also Read - Lockdown News: After UP And Bihar, U'khand Govt Imposes Complete Shutdown in Kashipur District Till July 13, Non-essential Movement Strictly Restricted

The report quotes school education director RK Kunwar as saying, “In the review meeting, the school education minister and several officials of the school education department suggested that the Bhojan Mantra be chanted before children eat the mid-day meals. We are planning to send out instructions for it to the concerned offices. However, chanting the mantra or painting it on the kitchen walls won’t be compulsory. It will be left to the discretion of the school authorities and the students.” Also Read - Mohena Kumari Singh Finally Tests Negative For COVID-19, Expresses Her Gratitude For Doctors And Healthworkers

Reacting, Congress leader and former state chief minister Harish Rawat said, “The government schools in Uttarakhand are in a bad condition. There is a need to focus on the quality of education in the schools. There is no need for the BJP to divert focus from crucial issues in education to that of chanting mantras, and singing Vande Mataram in schools to create controversies.” Also Read - Uttarakhand: Chardham Yatra to Begin From July 1, Here Are The SOPs to be Followed

BJP’s Uttarakhand president Ajay Bhatt said, “In many schools, the day starts with the Saraswati Vandana (prayer for Goddess Saraswati). However, the Bhojan Mantra is not chanted in any school. Through this initiative, we are trying to familiarise the students with their culture and tradition. I don’t see why this could be objectionable.”