City Sunday

Sabarimala gets wrong type of international attention

Successive governments in Kerala have been pressing the various Union governments demanding the famed Sabarimala temple be elevated to that of a national pilgrim centre but instead is now the focus of an avoidable type of international after a Supreme Court directive that women of all ages be permitted into the pre-12th century shrine that attracts the world’s largest pilgrimage.
The temple town has witnessed protests by Hindu groups since the September 28 verdict that allowed women of all ages to enter the temple, including those from the hitherto banned age group of 10 to 50 years.
The Left Democratic Front government led by the CPI-M has been trying to implement the verdict even as the Congress, the Bharatiya Janata Party and several Hindu groups are up in arms against it.
The temple usually opens for five days at the beginning of every Malayalam month and then from November 15 to January 20 is home to the festival season comprising the Mandala puja session and the Makaravilaku session.
Ever since the verdict, around three dozen women from the hitherto banned age group have tried and failed to go up the pathway leading to the temple, following protests from the believers.
At dawn on January 2, two Keralaite women in the hitherto banned age group managed to pay obeisance, with Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan confirming this.
Thereafter, the Sabarimala tantri (head priest) closed down the temple for an hour at 10.30 a.m and conducted “purification’ rituals” something that has never happened before during the two-month-long festival season.
Deeply hurt by the manner in which the Kerala Police enabled the the two women to enter the temple, an angry Sabarimala Karma Samithi, an umbrella organisation of Hindu groups that has the backing of the BJP and RSS, called for a statewide shutdown the next day that led to widespread violence across the state, the likes of which has not been seen in the recent past.
Kerala Police chief Loknath Behra stated on Monday that close to 40,000 people have been booked for creating violence in the state in the past few days and 1,869 cases have been registered.
Till Monday, 5,769 people have been arrested, of which 789 have been remanded while 4,980 people have been let off on bail.
In the violence that broke out, the homes of BJP Rajya Sabha member V. Muraleedharan and several other BJP leaders were attacked, as were the residences of top CPI-M leaders including, party legislator A.M.Shamsheer.
The approximate damages caused due to the violence has been estimated at around Rs 10 crore, with close to 100 state owned-buses also being damaged.
What has come as a shocker to the state government is the strong position taken by the powerful Nair Service Society (NSS), the socio-cultural body of the Hindu Nair community, which condemned what it Vijayan’s role in staging a pre-scripted display of breaking the customs and traditions of the Sabarimala temple.
But CPI-M State Secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan hit back at the NSS for playing into the hands of the Sangh Parivar, cautioning it against fall into a trap laid by the saffronites.
But Vijayan, ever since the verdict, has stood rooted to the stand that there is no other go but to abide by it. (MR, Inputs: Agencies).

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