The Malayali Hindu is quite an abused lot, but they have only realized it rather late. With the controversy surrounding the implementation of the Judgement of the Supreme Court on Sabarimala, the Hindu community of Kerala has finally stood up, and said: “Enough is enough”. A line has been drawn across the sand by Malayali Hindus – regardless of caste, class and social status.
Sabarimala is the veritable rock that has broke the camel’s back (as opposed to the straw). A rage has swept over us, one that has been brewing for a long time. A pent-up anger has been released, and the results have been ugly.
The person responsible for this aggravated situation is none other than the Chief Minister of Kerala, Pinrayi Vijayan. The Supreme Court might have given the Judgement allowing the entry of young women into the temple, but Vijayan attempted to no form of reconciliation towards the Hindus of the state who were obviously perturbed by the transgression of the highest court.
He aggravated the anger of Hindus by adopting a hardline position on the issue and fuming in speeches and press conferences about the ‘Sangh Parivar conspiracy’ to destroy the ‘secular’ credentials of the state by hoisting the Sabarimala issue. He also made nonsensical comments – he asked why the BJP did not approach the court regarding this issue. The finer points of locus standi– ‘the capacity to be a party in a suit’ seem quite lost on the Chief Minister. He has made the desecration of the temple his number one priority, a point of pride. Nothing else explains the haste that has been adopted by the administration of the state in implementation.
The same can be inferred from the fact that more than 2000 persons have been arrested in connection with the protests that happened in the state during October 16 – October 22! The state government has engaged in a crackdown of massive proportions. Kerala Police has been given a free hand to regulate the flow of devotees into the temple; every single power that has can be used by the state has been called on to ‘manage’ the ‘public order’ in the area where the temple is situated.
The Communist party and the left establishment in the state have more than unnerved by the display of strength that was seen in Namajapa yatras across the state. Hundreds of thousands of protestors, from Kasorgode to Thiruvananthapuram, from the Hills of Wayanad to the backwaters of Alappuzha protested the Judgement of the Supreme Court and the stand of the Kerala Government. Many of these protests were organic, organised by Ayyappa Sanghams or collectives of Hindus aggrieved at the Judgement. These protests were led by women devotees, who did not wish that theNaishtika Brahmacharya of Swami Ayyappa be violated in their names.
The response of the Communist party has been to decry those protest as being limited to “Upper caste” community. The obvious aim of the CPM here was to create caste divisions within the Hindu community regarding Sabarimala. Then, they attempted to portray this issue as the communalization of the state. These attempts are indications that the left is using every single weapon in their arsenal to tarnish the image of pious devotees who oppose the Judgement and its implementation.
The amount of misinformation and propaganda that has dominated the mainstream television channels and newspapers are undoubtedly the work of the left’s “fellow travellers”. Those who have studied Communism and its methods would not be shocked at the methods that they have adopted in Kerala. They have framed the issue like that of “Social Justice”, attempting to fashion the Sabarimala Judgement as one of those great steps towards ‘equality’.
References are aplenty from Marxists in the state to the achievements of the state in Social reform, recalling the Vaikom and Guruvayur Satyagraha that secured the right of temple entry for lower castes. Those attempts have however fallen flat because the devotees of the Ayyappa and the larger public (one might ask if there is a difference between the two at this stage) understand the rituals and traditions of the temple and how distinct they are from the question of temple entry for lower castes. The Sabarimala temple has a deep and pervasive belief among the Hindus of the state, especially among the lower castes. Almost every Malayali knows the rites and vows that a Swami who is undertaking a pilgrimage to the temple takes. Further, the temple is open to anyone who can undertake the vratham– whether it be a Hindu, Muslim or Christian.
The Communist Party has been in many a sense, representing the interests of the Hindu Community state. Primarily because their opposition, the Kerala Congress (Mani) and the Indian Union Muslim League, the constituents of the United Democratic Front represent the interests of the Christian and Muslim Communities in the state.
The party has encouraged and supported ritual artforms of the Hindus of the state in more than one occasion. It has overtly and covertly signalled to Hindu Conservatives in the state before. Even while the Chief Minister has criticized and slammed the BJP, that Tantri and others, he has maintained a steady silence on the role of the Nair Service Society. The NSS is the organization that has represented for long the interests of the Upper caste Nair community in the state. The NSS and its general secretary, Sukumaran Nair has taken a strong stand on the issue, having joined as intervenors when the PIL was filed and organized multiple protests against the state government and the Supreme Court Judgement. However, Pinrayi is yet to directly criticize them.
The hardcore communists of the state are perplexed about how to deal with the popular resistance towards the stand of their almighty leader, Pinrayi. The image that he had created among the electorate due to his fearless leadership during the worst floods in the century That is all but destroyed now. His obstinacy is without doubt leading the party to a crisis like the West Bengal unit had during the Singur controversy.
I was myself, a former supporter and well wisher of the Communist Party and its grand objectives of ‘social reforms’ and ‘economic progress for all’. The duplicity of such claims and the perversity of their proclaimed objectives unravelled before me as I grew older. The true moment of reckoning for me was the JNU incident. For many millions of Malayalis, it has been what has happened in the last few weeks.
The Sabarimala incident has the potential to be cataclysmic to the CPM. Before this, it seemed to be almost certain that the left would have a stranglehold on power due to the decline of the Indian National Congress and the rise of the Bharatiya Janata Party. Those dynamics have been altered radically. What lies ahead for the state in coming days(and indeed Months and years) is uncertain, especially since Amit Shah has vowed that BJP will stand as a ‘rock’ for Ayyappa devotees and Sabarimala. The events of the coming days will determine the future of Kerala, and its Hindu Community. As a devotee, I pray that the rites and rituals of the temple not be violated in these weeks. That is my only desire, regardless of the politics of Sabarimala.
Swamiye Sharanam! Ayyappa Sharanam!
(This article was originally published in Bangla on Bangodesh.com)