Ayyappa politics is sacrilege
Columns, Point of View

Ayyappa politics is sacrilege

January 16, 2019

By T.J.S. George

Two factors are preventing the Sabarimala conundrum from moving towards a solution — and the self-promoting politics of BJP-RSS forces are too unimportant to be one of them. It’s true that Hindutva extremists’ political obstructionism drew attention in the early days through violence. Although their campaign was in the name of tradition, they had no compunctions about breaking traditions; a leader climbed the holy steps to deliver a speech. Only when they realised the counter-productive nature of their agitation did they move to Thiruvananthapuram with the idea of “relay” fasting which, when we think about it, is a con game: One person lying in a bed for a couple of days without food and then going away to eat while another person takes to the bed, presumably after a hearty meal.

The real reasons behind the crisis continuing in Sabarimala are, first, wrong readings of the issue of discrimination and, secondly, the tactlessness of the Chief Minister that defies common sense. Liberal opinion has taken a one-track position based on women’s right to equality. According to them, a prolonged campaign was necessary in Kerala to let Dalits enter temples and a similar campaign has become necessary to let women enter Sabarimala.

This is a mixing of issues that have neither historical nor sociological similarities. Dalit oppression, which had reached sadistic levels in Kerala, was based on open, shameless, caste-based discrimination. It violated the basic tenets of any civilised society and had to be brought to an end. Sabarimala’s no-woman stance is not a comparable case of discrimination. It is based on faith, tradition and, let it not be forgotten, a High Court ruling in 1991. The court remarked that the practice was there from “time immemorial” because women could not do the mandatory 41-day penance due to menstruation. The present court ruling has to be weighed against the previous one.

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More importantly, the no-woman tradition in Sabarimala runs parallel to no-man traditions in other temples. What is considered the largest annual gathering of women in the world takes over the main roads in Thiruvananthapuram to cook rice in earthen pots for the Goddess in Attukal temple at Pongala time. Men are barred from participation. In fact, the Attukal temple is known as the Sabarimala of women. Another revered pilgrim centre in Kerala, Chakkulathu Kavu, is also for women only. So is the famous Bhagati Maa temple in Kanyakumari. No one accuses these temples of discrimination against men and there is no campaign for men’s equality. By the same token, no one should accuse Swamy Ayyappan’s temple of discrimination against women. The space for faith in our lives is legitimate. Those who do not have the faith should not hinder those who have. That is what makes a society free.

As has been said before, “It is natural for an old civilisation to have old practices. Justice is best when it recognises that there is no offence in the logic of the faithful being at variance with the logic of the rationalist.”

The second factor that keeps Sabarimala on the boil is Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s haste in helping women to enter Sabarimala. The steps he has taken in the wake of the Supreme Court order and the statements he has made in a stop-me-if-you-can tone reflect a Communist leader’s attitude rather than a Chief Minister’s. As the head of government, he could have gained much by keeping tempers low, ensuring an atmosphere of peace and giving time to various players to adjust to new concepts. But he rushed into action saying that he had no option but to carry out                                                     court orders.

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A week ago he showed that he did have options. A court order allowed a Christian faction to conduct services in a disputed church. An opposing faction physically prevented this, but the State Government did nothing to ensure that the court order was duly implemented. Evidently, the Pinarayi Government picks and chooses cases in which it wants to use the courts and cases where it likes to ignore the judiciary.

Never has Kerala politics been in such a mess. Pinarayi is considered the strong man of politics, but there is no sign of his strength benefiting the State. He cannot even control the faction-ridden police force despite repeated reshuffling of top officers. The Congress is in Trishanku Swarga, not knowing who is its leader and who is not. In the melee, the BJP has outshouted others and matched communist murder politics with its own.  These manipulators are only committing sacrilege in the name of the Lord of Sabarimala.

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4 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “Ayyappa politics is sacrilege”

  1. It is a classical article. Thanks to the author for presenting eye opening facts.

  2. H says:

    at last a logical and really secular article by mr george.

  3. Krishnan says:

    List of Women who attempted to enter Sabarimala temple:
    1. Libi – christian, Atheist
    2. Suhasini Raj – Atheist, Hindu hater, NYT journalist
    3. Kavitha Jakkal – christian
    4. Rehana Fatima – Muslim who carried stained Sanitary Napkin along with coconut to offer “Ayyappa”
    5. Mary Sweety – christian
    Direct questions to some of my intellectual friends:
    1) Should we let 5 non-Hindu activists decide the future of 10,000 year old Hindu dharma? Come… on my friends!
    2) Are they devotees? Are they well-wishers?
    3) Are they asking equalities for our moms, sisters, or daughters? Do they really care?
    4) Why are they not fighting to reform their own religions? Why don’t they fight for cruel girl genital mutilations?
    5) What is their motive?
    Most of us are educated and believe in reforms/equality. But, at the same time, we do not want to be trapped by someone’s evil motives behind the name of equality. We do not want to be among those educated gullible who need only one logical reason to be persuaded! We want to go beyond one logical reason. We should be looking every action through different perspectives and different angles (see above questions). We should put more focus on the intentions and motives
    Also there are 4 million Hindu temples in India where 99 percent of them have female godesses
    t also and everybody worship God’s and goddesses! Out of them, 2 temples restrict women and 6 temples restrict men! Anybody with even a few brain cells can see this is not the case of descrimimination ! Plain truth is Communists want Hinduism eradicated Chriitians want to all image Hinduism and loot the temples to build churches!
    99 percent of the million mosques do not allow any women of any age even anybody including the SC judges meddle with it, there will be a fatwa on his head!
    All these Bloody Bstrds gang up to rape Hinduism and loot temples! The Bogus prext is secularism!

    • What a culture! says:

      Also there are 4 million Hindu temples in India where 99 percent of them have female godesses
      t also and everybody worship God’s and goddesses! Out of them, 2 temples restrict women and 6 temples restrict men! Anybody with even a few brain cells can see this is not the case of descrimimination !”

      You do not have even a few brain cells to see those temples which restrict women and men indulge in discrimination. People with sufficient brain cells, unlike you, can see discrimination of women or men ( in terms of gender) as the case may in temples you refer to above. There is no discrimination if all temples in India allow every woman and man to worship.
      BTW, I am a devout Hindu, and believe that God treats every one equally and it is the small-minded temple authorities who indulge in this petty discrimination.
      Stop accusing other religions, when there is a bigotry in Hinduism which Hindus claim as an enlightened religion.


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