Are Sabarimala devotees fighting a three-front battle? – M.R. Subramani

Sabarimala devotees demonstrate against Comrade Pinarayi

M.R. SubramaniEvents suggest that it’s more than just the Kerala government behind the attempts to desecrate the Sabarimala shrine. – M.R. Subramani  

Consider this. The Left Democratic Government (LDF) Government headed by Pinarayi Vijayan suddenly says that about 10 women of reproductive age could have had darshan at Sabarimala Ayyappa Temple. Suddenly the Kerala police, who facilitated the visit of two alleged Maoist activists—Bindu and Kanaka Durga—clandestinely, are equipped with close circuit television (CCTV) claiming more women had darshan at the temple.

This comes amidst confusion regarding whether a Sri Lankan woman in her late forties entered the temple for darshan. The Sri Lankan woman has gone before television cameras to deny she had entered the shrine but Vijayan and his police force want us to believe otherwise.

A scrutiny of the developments since 28 September when the Supreme Court ruled that women of reproductive age could enter the Sabarimala temple, shows that three forces have perhaps, by design or coincidence, come together, much to the chagrin of millions of Ayyappa devotees.

The agenda of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) Government in Kerala is clear. It wants to somehow break the spirits of Hindus in the state, and the country too, and thus create a wedge between them.

In the name of ensuring equality, the State Government has forgotten everything else and taken up entry of women into Sabarimala temple as its priority. Importantly, the state government has turned a blind eye towards preserving the sanctity of the shrine.

Kerala has still not recovered from the devastating floods of 2018, the worst in 100 years, and Vijayan never forgets to remind people that a lot needs to be done to put the State back on the path of development. The Chief Minister’s adamancy, however, has resulted in the state seeing five hartals in the past 3 months.

Is this the way to administer a state where floods have wreaked havoc just a few months ago? The development agenda of the state has completely taken a back seat.

After coming to power in 2016, the LDF Government declared that it would attract more investments in infrastructure and ensure increased investment in the state. Five months short of three years, the state seems to have lost the plot in attracting investments.

More painfully, the Government has been going through one problem after the other – starting with the incidents of dengue, floods and now protests over entry of women of reproductive age into Sabarimala.

When the CPM Government took over the reins of the state, there was a lot expected from it but by playing politics, which alienates the majority Hindus, Vijayan seems to have caused much more damage. The CPM’s machinations to divide the Hindu community, become transparent when one sees the kid gloves with which other religious communities in the state are treated.

The LDF dragged its feet on taking action against Roman Catholic Bishop Franco Mulakkal, who allegedly raped a nun repeatedly at a convent in Kottayam. In addition, the State government has also shown no intent to implement the Supreme Court ruling on the Piravom Church issue in Ernakulam, made in July last year.

Another question to be asked of the Vijayan government is regarding the double standards exhibited in dealing with issues of other religious communities in the State. Vijayan and his authorities are not able to handle less than 100 Christian devotees of the Piravom Church but go all out to try and crush Ayyappa devotees who are protesting the Supreme Court ruling.

Similarly, the LDF Government has shut its eyes to activities of the Popular Front of India (PFI) which has a suspicious role in the cases of 10 people leaving Kerala to join ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Levant) in Syria and Afghanistan last month. The 10 are in addition to the 21 who had left in July 2016, soon after the CPM took over the administration in State.

The Vijayan Government could have probably waited for the Supreme Court to take up the petitions seeking review of the Sabarimala Ayyappa Temple entry ruling. The hearing comes up on 22 January and the State government would have lost nothing by choosing to wait for the apex court to take a decision on the review petitions.

While being fully aware of the sentiments of the Hindu community, the government chose to spend its energy in actively attacking the faith and crushing the faithful of the Hindu community. This is despite the fact that the state has lost a significant portion of its revenue that it could have got in the tourism season starting October.

When a Government shirks its responsibility to work for the state’s development and focuses on things that can ideally wait, it is clear that the party in power is working with a distinct agenda. Instead of maintaining the peace in the State and averting further escalation of tension, till the review petition is heard, the CPM Government has accorded priority to crushing the spirit of the devotees at Sabarimala.

Nothing is more illustrative of this than the Vijayan government secretively providing access to two activists rather than real devotees to the Sabarimala temple. And the follow-up statements on more women entering the shrine even without any substantial evidence only to shatter the faith of the Hindu community at large.

Last week in a programme on Daily Thanthi, one of CPM leaders, Balabharati, said her party saw Ayyappa as comrade and not God. The anchor of the programme asked her if women devotees would also be allowed into Vavar Mosque since Ayyappa devotees first pay their respects to Vavar Sami before embarking to enter the Sabarimala shrine.

The CPM leader tersely responded by asking the anchor to not create new issues! The duplicity of the party on gender equality is evident from this and it is adequately clear that the first force working against the Ayyappa devotees is the state itself.

The second force operating in the state is the Church. As soon as the two activists entered the temple, one of the theories that made the rounds was that this was a conspiracy by the Church.

A police investigation on the 1951 fire mishap at the Sabarimala temple pointed at a “Christian conspiracy”. The investigator at that point had come up with evidence that looked like conclusive proof, but stopped short of naming anyone.

The charges against the Church are that it has been able to leave its imprint on most hill shrines in the South, including Tirupati Tirumala but Sabarimala has till date been an exception and that makes it a target for the Church.

Congress President Sonia Gandhi has also asked her party men not to wear black bands in protest against the entry of the two women into Sabarimala. Sonia Gandhi’s diktat to her party men, especially in Kerala, stops her state cadre from taking up the issue further. Since then, the Congress has been missing from the protests against the Vijayan Government.

What needs to be borne in mind is that the Congress campaign against the LDF government in Kerala on the Sabarimala issue was spearheaded by Ramesh Chennithala. The other two senior leaders of the party, former chief ministers Oommen Chandy and A.K. Antony have at the most been silent spectators on the whole issue.

The third force that is working in Kerala are the Dravidian forces. Nothing is more revealing of this than the attempt by Manithi women’s organization, which is backed to the hilt by the Dravidar Kazhagam (DK), to enter the Sabarimala shrine. The attempt was led by Selvi Mano, a Christian, indicating that it had little to do with faith or devotion and was purely a part of agenda-driven politics. That apart, of late, DK stalwarts like K. Veeramani and Suba Veerapandian have been coming up with their own weird theories on Sabarimala and its rituals.

A video shows DK leader K. Veeramani terming the black dress worn by Ayyappa devotees as “duplicate”. The DK seems to be heading the group in Tamil Nadu that wants women of reproductive age to enter the Sabarimala temple. The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and its president M K Stalin, too, are backing this, though they oppose the ordinance banning triple talaq.

Thus, the Kerala Government appears aided by the Church and the Dravidian groups in enabling the entry of women of reproductive age into Sabarimala Ayyappa Temple. But what their act exposes is how the so-called secular forces are trying to psychologically wreck the mindset of millions of Ayyappa devotees and divide the majority community to press forward their own agendas. – Swarajya, 7 January 2019

 

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4 Responses

  1. Sabarimala Karma Samithi to intensify protests over young women’s entry in Sabarimala temple – DailyHunt – Kochi – 4 January 2019

    Alleging “mysterious link between CPI(M) and radical outfits to destroy” the traditions of the Lord Ayyappa temple, a meeting of the Samithi leaders on Thursday also sought an NIA probe into the entry of two women into Sabarimala temple with the support of a Maoist group, hurting sentiments of devotees of Lord Ayyappa.

    BJP leaders who met RSS leadership here said they would support the Samithi’s agitation to protect faith of Lord Ayyappa devotees and removal of Pinarayi Vijayan from the state’s chief ministership.

    Accusing Vijayan of creating tension in the state, Sabarimala Karma Samithi leader S. J. R. Kumar said he had no right to continue as the chief minister of the state.

    “The Chief Minister and police took two women into Sabarimala temple with the support of the Maoists. The National Investigation Agency (NIA) should probe the Kerala government’s link with the Maoists,” Kumar said.

    Draped in black and their faces covered in veils, 42-year-old Bindu, a college lecturer and CPI(ML) activist from Kozhikode district’s Koyilandy, and Kanakadurga, 44, a civil supplies department employee from Angadipuram in Malappuram, entered the Sabarimala shrine at 3:38 AM on Wednesday.

    The right wing outfits said that they would continue their agitation to protect faith of Lord Ayyappa devotees. “Hindu faith in the state is under assault under the LDF rule,” they alleged.

    A rath yatra of Hindu leaders of the state in protest against the Kerala government’s move to “destroy” traditions of Sabarimala temple will be held from January 11, 12 and 13.

    The yatra will cover 10 districts of the state barring four southern districts including Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Pathanamthitta and Alappuzha, Kumar said.

    Eighteen crore makara jyoti (lighting of lamps) will be lit across state on the occasion of Makaravilakku festival in Sabarimala on Janaury 14, he said.

    The Karma Samiti will also organise a secretariat march on January 18 in which Ayyappa devotees from four southern districts will participate, Kumar said.

    The meeting adopted a resolution supporting the decisions taken by Sabarimala temple chief priest to protect the customs of the temple.

    The meeting also condemned the attack on the chief priest of the temple by the Chief Minister and CPI(M) leaders for ordering purification rituals after two women in the menstruation age group entered the shrine.

    “The tantri (chief priest) is under constant attack from the atheists for taking decisions on rituals. We have decided to take up the security of the chief priest,” he said.

    The meeting of the Karma Samiti was held a day after Kerala witnessed violent clashes between saffron outfits and activists of ruling CPI(M)-led LDF during a hartal called by Karma Samiti in protest against the entry of two women of menstruating age into the Sabarimala temple on Wednesday.

  2. Agasthyarkoodam Hill

    After Sabarimala, protests planned for women’s access to Agasthyarkoodam Hill – TNM Staff – The News Minute – 8 January 2019

    Members of the Kani tribe reportedly plan to take a leaf out of the book of Sabarimala protesters by organising a “naam japa” (prayer chant) protest to express their disapproval at women trekkers being allowed to access Agasthyarkoodam. Women trekkers were earlier not allowed on the mountain during the 41-day trekking season between January 15 to March 2.

    Members of the Kani tribe believe the hill, the second tallest in Kerala, and the shrine at its peak to be the resting place of the sage Agasthya, who appears briefly in the Mahabharata and Ramayana. The sage Agasthya is also, like Ayyappa, meant to be an eternal celibate, leading to the ban on women trekking to the temple.

    Onmanorama reports that Mohan Triveni, president of Agasthyarkoodam Kshethra Kanikkar Trust said that the naam japa protest is scheduled to be held at Bonacaud around the time women begin trekking to the peak at the beginning of the trekking season, while the date is still set to be decided.

    However, unlike the protests held by anti-women’s entry protesters around the Sabarimala issue, members of the Kani tribe do not intend to physically stop women from trekking or to violently oppose the High Court’s order allowing women access to the hill. The Hindu reports that discontent is mounting among members of the Kani tribe, however, it is unlikely that the area will witness violent agitations. Mohan told Onmanorama that “there is a High Court verdict and we have to respect the law of the land.”

    The Kerala High Court had ruled on November 30 that there could be no gender-based restriction on climbing or trekking Agasthyarkoodam. The ruling further pointed out that no one had any vested right over the hill, as it was a reserve forest and a UNESCO heritage site. It further opined that the Kani tribe did not have any customary right of worship over the area as there was no physical shrine there, only an idol.

    “In case permission is being granted for trekking in the year 2019, it is made clear that restrictions shall not be imposed only on the ground of the gender of the trekker,” the Kerala High Court had observed. Thus, forest officials will be taking women on the yearly supervised trek to Agasthyarkoodam this year. The Hindu reports that all trekkers will be insured by the forest department, and that a shed has been constructed for women trekkers to use. The Kerala government had opened online registration for male and female trekkers who wished to visit the hill on 4 January.

  3. Who voted the LDF (CPI & CPI-M) government to power?

    Hindus voted the LDF parties to power. Muslims and Christians voted for Congress.

    So Hindus have got the government they want.

    Have Hindus lost the power to think, to discriminate and choose a government in their own interest?

    • True ! And now the Congress are going to reap the benefits of BJP’s support of the Sabarimala cause. An ill advised support and at the wrong time. The Kerala govt. will be there for the next little while. Congress is expected to sweep the parliamentary elections.

      Unless and untill the Hindus of Kerala abandon their traditional support of CPM and Congress the BJP will not make any advances in Kerala.

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