Harbhajan Singh continues to play with fire

October 10th, 2008 - 2:25 pm ICT by IANS  

Harbhajan SinghChandigarh, Oct 10 (IANS) He has let his hair down on a ramp and featured in a liquor advertisement - both prohibited by his religion - had on and off field spats with Australians Andrew Symonds and Mathew Hayden, slapped fellow cricketer S. Sreesanth in full public view and now done a ‘Ravana’ act that has got Hindu and Sikh organisations gunning for him.As off-spinner Harbhajan Singh - ‘Bhajji’ to friends and in cricket circles - took to the field in the first Test match against Australia, what must have been weighing on his mind was the latest storm he has created with his ‘Ravana-Sita’ dance number with TV actress Mona Singh on TV reality show “Ek Khiladi, Ek Hasina”.

The Sikh clergy is already aghast with Harbhajan because he posed as a Hindu mythological character and even applied Hindu symbols on his forehead.

The Jathedar (chief) of the Akal Takht - the highest temporal authority of Sikh religion - Gurbhachan Singh has taken exception to Harbhajan’s latest act and wants him to apologise to Hindus for allegedly hurting their sentiments and also to the Sikhs for this.

“If I receive a complaint in this regard, we will take action as per religious traditions. This is not acceptable. He has to apologise for hurting Hindu and Sikh sentiments,” the Akal Takht chief said in Amritsar.

Both Harbhajan and his companion in the ‘Ravana-Sita’ dance, “Jassi Jaisi Koi Nahin” TV star Mona Singh, are Sikhs. In Hindu mythology, Ram’s wife Sita was abducted by demon king Ravana.

Right-wing Hindu organisations have objected to the dance number that “mocked” Hindu sentiments, they say.

“This act is shameful. How can Sita be shown dancing with an evil like Ravana? This is carrying things a little too far. Both celebrities should come on TV with a garland of shoes around their necks to apologise for this,” Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Vijay Bhardwaj said here.

With his dance, Bhajji has landed himself in trouble hardly a few months after his ‘Slapgate’ controversy, in which he slapped fast bowler and fellow Indian cricketer S. Sreesanth after losing an Indian Premier League (IPL) match at Mohali near here this April. It almost put a stop to his playing career and cost him a whopping Rs.34 million as he was dumped from the IPL and faced a limited ban from playing.

Harbhajan’s infamous “monkey” run-in with equally temperamental Australian all-rounder Andrew Symonds almost saw India’s tour to Australia being abandoned last year.

The bowler also had an on and off field spat with Australian opener Mathew Hayden who, of course, bit more than he could chew when he called the Bhajji “an obnoxious weed”.

Harbhajan had upset Sikh clergy three years ago when he first appeared in the advertisement of a liquor brand and later let his hair loose to walk the ramp in a fashion show. Liquor and untying hair in public appearance is prohibited in the Sikh religion.

The Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) at Mohali near here had set up a probe against Harbhajan in 2005 after he publicly went against then Indian cricket coach Greg Chappell saying that the coach was intimidating players in the team.

The bowler was trying to defend the then Indian skipper Saurav Ganguly but ended up being reprimanded by the PCA.

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