Controversial Malayalam novel Meesha (Moustache) authored by S Hareesh has been conferred the Kerala Sahitya Akademi award for the year 2019 after being adjudged as the best novel. The has been at the centre controversy for showing Hindu women in poor light.
One twitter user that goes by username @thegeminian_ highlighted how the novel objectified the women who go to temple and portrayed them as seekers of sex.
“No. Just think, why do women dress up so beautifully and wear their best clothes to pray? They go to temples to let men know that they’re available to have sex. This is also why they don’t go to temples for a few days in a month. Especially to let the priests know.”— N (@thegeminian_) February 15, 2021
She explains that part of the novel describes conversation between two friends wherein one friend says that women dress up while going to temple to let men, especially the priests, know they are available for sex.
The novel was challenged before the Supreme Court for presenting temple going women as sex objects
In 2018, the novel was challenged before the Supreme Court for portraying the temple-going Hindu women as women of loose character. The translation of a conversation between two characters in the novel was submitted before the Supreme Court highlighting the misogynistic tone of the novel regarding the temple going Hindu women. The conversation portrayed the temple going women as sex objects who visit temple to let other know that they were available for sex. The excerpt read:
“Why do these girls take bath and put on their best when they go to the temple?” a friend who used to join the morning walk until six months ago once asked.
“To Pray”, I said.
“No”, he said.
“Look carefully, why do they need to put their best clothes in the most beautiful way to pray? They are unconsciously proclaiming that they are ready to enter into sex”, he said. I laughed.
“Otherwise”, he continued, “why do they not come to the temple four or five days a month? They are letting people know that they are not ready for it. Especially, informing those Thirumenis (Brahmin priests) in the temple. Were they not the masters in these matters in the past?”
However, the a three-judge Bench of the Supreme Court headed by the the Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra had refused to put a ban on the novel terming it the freedom of expression. “You are giving undue importance to this kind of stuff. In the age of the Internet, you are making this an issue. It is best forgotten”, Justice Chandrachud had remarked.
The novel had invited huge backlash calling for its ban
The novel was first published in the Malayalam weekly Mathrubhumi, however, it was discontinued after publishing three chapters in the weekly. It was later published as a book by DC Books. The novel had received huge backlash for its portrayal of women who go to temples. Kerala BJP head K Surendran condemned the conferring of the Kerala Sahitya Akademi award to the novel saying that this should be seen as an act against the Hindu community. “Kerala has not seen such derogatory novel. The decision to award Meesha should be seen as an act against the Hindu community. This is a continuation of insulting Hindus after the Sabarimala issue”, he said.