From secular progressive to regressive. That didn't take much time, did it?
There is a palpable sense of glee in some quarters, eagerly waiting for the religious floodwaters to break through and drown this secular bulwark against communal bigotry. They hope that this would be another deluge, with Sabarimala the first shutter opening of the Cheruthoni dam of religious bile. Let’s hope we find enough fishermen and boats to survive this flooding.
Ideally, one would expect these people to be protesting in front of the Supreme Court, as it was that court’s decision to let these "impure" women in. It’s hard to believe that the secular, liberal intellectuals had any kind of influence on the court. Or for that matter, anyone, because then that will not be a fair and impartial judiciary.
My initial reaction was, “hey, let the ladies believe in whatever hocus-pocus they want to believe”. However, after seeing the attempts by a section to hold God’s Own Cakoos to ransom, I became more interested and started looking up largely uninteresting facts (or fake news, as they are known now).
We have to admire the audacity of this group. The women who filed the case were not, as a Facebook friend commented, WEIRD (Western-Educated Industrialized Rich & Democratic) people with a liberal agenda. If anything, some of them were from the “right” stock (check out Prerna Kumari/husband in fb). An initial smokescreen was created in the name of the Indian Young Lawyers Association, which was headed by a guy called Naushad at that time (2006), who didn’t have anything to do with this petition.
The case dragged on for 12 years, and the Supreme Court, in its infinite wisdom (or is it ignorance, if you believe these people), and hopefully after studying the case meticulously, gave a verdict. All these people, including the NSS, the descendent of the family that ruled over the Pandalam municipality and surroundings, and even a guy called Rahul Easwar, had the opportunity to present their side to the court. Naishtika brahmachari (it will be interesting to know how many people who spout this word know its meaning (I googled)), menstruating women, magnetic force, magic fire in mountain, crowds killed in stampedes trying to watch magic fire in mountain, e-coli in Pampa river, everything. Still, at the end of the day, the court decided in favour of the women who filed the complaint.
Then, before you could say swamiye saranam ayyappa, it all became some devious liberal agenda. Suddenly, some of them saw a chance to open that shutter to let the pent-up religious bigotry on the people. The glimmer of a chance to get a foothold was too good to pass. Hence the change of heart from
Suddenly, ancient customs became important. The RSS supreme leader now blames the judges for ignoring tradition. Irony drowned itself in the Pampa when a Dalit priest said centuries-old customs should be respected. The guy would have had to stand close to a century steps away from the Namboothiri thantri of Sabarimala if those centuries-old customs were intact.
Regardless of the feeling towards the ruling dispensation in the State, it’s time once again for mallus to pull together like they did during the floods.
P.S. It is interesting to note that a similar centuries-old tradition was ditched some time ago at the Shani Shingnapur Temple in Maharashtra after a court order.