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Sabrimala: The misunderstood love-story

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Aabhas Maldahiyar
Aabhas Maldahiyar
An Architect and Urban Designer by profession. A published author with two fictions so far. 'Crossing the Line' is the last published book which hit stands in January 2013. A History, Polity, Art, Philosophy & Physics enthusiast. Once open a time: A Marxist!

“Die Religion … ist das Opium des Volkes” – Karl Marx

“Sukha Mula Dharma” – Chanakya

The first German quote comes from the great scholar of West while the second Sanskrit quote comes by greatest ever of east. The first one translates as ‘religion is the Opium of People,’ while the second one translates as ‘Dharma is the root of happiness.’ For many the two would be statements of two diametrically opposite stands though the nouns (Religion and Dharma) meaning same. And that’s where most people get bowled out for the fact that if Religion only means a particular system of faith and worship, Dharma means performing duty, rights, character, vocation, religion, customs and all behavior considered appropriate, correct or morally upright.

Recently I came across an article by Barkha Dutt, one of the illustrious faces of female identity in Indian journalism. The story was titled ‘Shame at Sabarimala,’ and was good to make me read the whole article.The article of Ms Dutt only kept exposing her trait very similar the second person who misunderstands ‘Religion’ as ‘Dharma’ which was emboldened right at the beginning by the choice of highlighter sentence.

The sentence reads: – ‘As a proud feminist I do not accept that tradition & custom can remain frozen in time.’ But if I put plainly referring to thesaurus meaning, ‘Tradition is defined as the transmission of customs or beliefs from generations to generations, or the fact of being passed on in their way.’ I’ll definitely go dictionary way and not the Barkha way hence anything which isn’t frozen in a particular time is indeed not Tradition. Rather few traditions which appear as threat to civil and human values must be killed. May it be Instant Triple Talaq or the practice of Sati! I see her completely faulty  when she expresses feminism as licence & adjective to oppose traditions as assurgent. In reality war against evil tradition can never be brought either under Feminism or Masculine cause. It’s always human and It’s naive to append feminism in every god-damn activism.

She reflects empathy by laying stress upon heinous assault over female devotees who tried to reach the deity of Sabrimala post Supreme Court Verdict. Anyone unaware about what exactly transpired at the mentioned spot is bound to believe in Barkha’s tale. Though the fact of the matter is that not a single devotee was assaulted & none actually tried to breach the folk saga. The visitors who tried to act upon Supreme Court verdict by reaching the deity interestingly were the one who only mocked the deemed Gods of Hindus. I plead her to please mention at least ten names of genuine devotees who believed in the deity, wanted to follow the Upper Court’s verdict and were assaulted. I want to make it very clear that I’m in no way supporting the assault which few journalists had to face but want to keep the matter distinctly placed. Fringe minds belong to all groups and I think we both can agree upon it.

In case she is alleging that the four activists who wanted to reach the deity were assaulted, the fact is completely misplaced. First of all I’ll love to hear from Barkha that why were the four trying to reach out the Ayyappan when none of them had even a mole of faith for him. As she has taken up to become spokesperson for the four, I’ll seek her to clarify that why were they trying to reach the deity not for devotion but to subjugate an activism against the very rational practice although traditional? What’s the essence of visiting a place if one wants to do everything against its function and character? I’m sure even Barkha won’t approve of journalists playing soccer inside newsroom, nor will she dance while driving a car through screw roads even in case both comes as an objective of certain activism. The case at Sabrimala is no way disparate from the two cases I mentioned. People who don’t ever feel like worshiping the deity or respecting faith are shouting from rooftop to reach the deity. Can she clarify if she is also one of those?

I really don’t understand that how she looks to defend the case for Rehana Fatima, considering the derogatory impressions her Facebook page gives to everyone who believes in Ayyappan or any other Sanatani God? Though I’m a teetotaller and don’t promote alcohol still want to ask is he will approve of some bunch of Drunkard Muslims deciding to sprang in Mosque drunk and with bottles in hand? This repetitive assault on a particular faith, the one whom they often categorise as intolerant shall only lead to troubles. The idea of self-annihilation may sound great for a while till perceived only as hoax but realisations shall further make us venerable.

Let’s now look at the other side of coin: The bad Majority or The Bad Hindus (as Mr Tharoor recently mentioned of good Hindus). Can Barkha please mention even a single Ayyappan devotee of the restricted age group who has looked to abide the verdict of the upper court? Then the interesting question is: Then whom the verdict was for? Isn’t it like passing on a verdict for Muslims and not a single Muslim looking to abide to it? Now in case she says that how does it matter? Then my answer would be had it not mattered, the Chandigarh would have been designed by Pandit Nehru while Corbusier would have cherished pipe siting at PMO. It really maters what is to be done and by whom. I don’t know if she remembers or just doesn’t want to remember her conversation with Sadhguru? He explained her with a simple corollary of ‘his’ and ‘her’ toilet. It must be understood that few things are well understood by common sense not to devise ‘Sexism’ in common calls.

She goes on to say that even SC is not feared. Then I really want to ask her are we really supposed to fear institutions in Democracy or rather respect it. By her logic, people should then even fear PMO, RBI and what not. Now coming to understanding of respect to courts, it will really be wonderful if this can be explained:
Who was disrespecting in this case when in 2010, Sunni Waqf Board decided to challenge Allahabad Court’s judgement? It’s interesting that they were given some land-share even though ASI reports only nullified their claims. It must be noted that the Hindu community and organisations only welcomed the verdict. In the current case of Sabrimala, Kerala Government denied to file a review petition against the SC verdict though Mr CM was well aware of the pop sentiments and place’s significance. People were not even given constitutional right here and then fear from the court is talked about. We have forgotten that even terror mind Menon found so much constitutional importance that SC woke up when Alligators chimed somewhere. Wasn’t then protest and Satyagrah inevitable at Sabrimala what people could opt for?

I want to understand that how then the case can be quoted as ‘contempt’ of SC when the government showed Lenin trait by denying the Constitutional Right to the people? Isn’t even SC merely a ‘pyada’ of the great Smriti ‘The Constitution of India’ which is by, of and for the people? Bakha further goes on to bash BJP & RSS for the street protest. Then in that case I must ask her about Jignesh Mevani’s Elgaar Parishad speech where he asks not for a street protest but a street-war? Moreover she really needs to get over this petty politics of perceiving everything as wrong which is backed by people whom she hates from bottom of heart. After the arguments so far can she really make a claim that what BJP or RSS are doing is an act of evil?

Further in article she goes on play Rahul Gandhi’s favourite card of past few years: The Women Empowerment. Bogus claim of female discrimination based on menstrual cycle is made. The truth is way different about restriction than what she speaks about. Let me put the reasons straight. I’m sure in the time of now when information is so easily assessable people are even aware about the menstrua cycle. At times it even starts before the age of ten and continues beyond the age of fifty. The temple or shrine restricts female falling amid age group of 10-50 & hence its nowhere related to what Madam claims for. Few facts are mentioned below:

• Every devotee visiting Ayyappan Shrine of Sabrimala is called Ayyappan and everyone has to follow the prescribed uniform that even includes a uniform bag. It speaks of the idea of uniformity and no discrimination based on caste or creed.
• Before entering Ayyappan temple, there is another temple where the devotees go. This temple is dedicated to goddess Mallikappurathamma.
• The folklore says that she loved Ayyappan and wanted to marry him. But Ayyappan said, ‘I have already decided to be a Naishtika Brahmachari and hence I’ll not be able to marry you. But when Kanni Ayyappans stop coming to visit me then at that time I’ll marry you.’
• Till then Ayyappan didn’t wanted young women to come and see him for the love, care and respect he had for Mallikappurathamma. The tradition (that Barkha hates) has been carried out since thousands of years not to celebrate misogyny but the love & romance of Mallikappurathamma and Ayyappan.

I want to understand from Barkha why she has problem when country celebrates female pilots, corporates, designers, Ministers etc but at the same time wishes to celebrate the tradition of adore amid two divines? Is breaking this tradition or Phogat Sisters bagging the medals helping for Women Empowerment? She even places the case under religious practice but I must tell that India is a very curious case which can’t be understood if you see things only from the prism of Abrahamic Religions. India witnesses cultural practices like Muslim Sculptor first sculpting Ganapati and then being the first one to worship it. It’s not a religious but a cultural practice where a ‘Hindu Puja Padhatti’ is done by an Indian Muslim.

I really find Barkha a confused soul when she compares Instant Triple Talaq with the case of Sabrimala. Any sane person will tell her that ITP comes under Personal Law and in corresponding to it Hindu Code Bill was passed on 1955-56 itself when not even a decade had passed since we became independent. Though it took 70 years for ITP to be considered, sadly that to through the ordinance by the party you hate most. The case which I recommend Barkha to compare with is Haji Ali. But even in that case she will fail to bat with as it actually promoted misogyny. When the case of Haji Ali was being heard at the Bombay High Court, the trustees of Dargah countered saying following, ‘It’s a grievous sin to allow women come close to the tomb of male saint.’ I think she can now easily compare the two cases and decide.

We celebrate the Taj so much for love, though at the cost of mutilation of the great craftsmen. I really don’t know what stops us to rather celebrate such a surreal and eternal love that exists at Sabrimala be it at the cost of ‘no-Activism.’ I really would have admired if journalists dug deeper into any subject irrespective of self-goals. And that’s the only way journalism shall prevail as the fourth pillar.

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Aabhas Maldahiyar
Aabhas Maldahiyar
An Architect and Urban Designer by profession. A published author with two fictions so far. 'Crossing the Line' is the last published book which hit stands in January 2013. A History, Polity, Art, Philosophy & Physics enthusiast. Once open a time: A Marxist!
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