In a show of pettiness, Kerala police personnel destroyed balloons with images of freedom fighter Veer Savarkar. The incident happened at Thrissur a couple of days before the famous Thrissur Pooram festival. The administration also arrested Hindu Mahasabha state president Kishan CJ and held him in preventive custody. Netizens mocked that the Marxist revolutionaries are now afraid of even balloons.
Apart from balloons even face masks were not spared, and the police seized large quantities stored to be distributed among the devotees and destroyed them. Veer Savarkar’s images were imprinted on them too. This is the same junta that has fined 39 lakh Keralites for not wearing a face mask, more than 10% of the total population. It is to be noted that Savarkar is included in the list of freedom fighters released by the central government as part of the Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav celebrations.
Trouble began towards the beginning of April when the then Kerala MP Suresh Gopi intervened and got the necessary sanctions for the festival and the Pooram Vedikettu (fireworks) from the central government. Minister of Commerce and Industry Piyush Goyal is also in charge of the Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organization (PESO). The minister agreed and signed the documents which assured that the Pooram festival would be celebrated with pomp this year.
His intervention provoked the Kerala Marxists and extremist Islamist followers. They knew the temple had a go-ahead and could no longer intervene. For the first time in Kerala’s history, the state government agreed to pay for the barricades and allocated Rs.15 lakhs. Rather shamelessly, they erected a huge hoarding right in front of the temple’s main entrance announcing the same.
It featured CM Pinarayi Vijayan, his Islamist son-in-law and Kerala tourism minister, PA Mohammad Riyas, and a few ministers. This massive hoarding greeted the 19 lakh Hindu devotees who thronged the temple during the 2022 Thrissur Pooram.
Though there are multiple temples involved in the festivities, the Paramekkavu and the Thiruvambadi Temples are the major ones involved in the Thrissur Pooram. Following rituals, the temples compete and bring giant caparisoned tuskers carrying the deities, huge decorated umbrellas, dazzling parasols, and percussion music. The deities meet, and the umbrellas are exchanged (Kudamattam).
Crores of devotees witness the ritual worldwide. These umbrellas and their designs keep changing every year. Paramekkavu Devaswom decided to use images of Hindutva icons this year, including local Renaissance leaders, Swami Vivekananda, Subhash Chandra Bose, Bhagat Singh, and Veer Savarkar.
As part of the Paramaekkavu Devaswom Chamayam (decoration), BJP leader Suresh Gopi inaugurated these umbrellas during the temple festival. Images of Suresh Gopi holding an Azadi umbrella with a picture of Savarkar went viral. Devaswom minister K. Radhakrishnan and revenue minister K. Rajan objected to Savarkar’s inclusion. The communist youth wing DYFI, Congress, and other fringe leftist organizations joined the protest.
BJP leaders came out in support of Paramekkavu Devaswom. They alleged unnecessary communist interference in temple affairs and said devotees should decide on designs. The Paramekkavu temple board authorities gave up and decided to change the design at the last moment. Hindu Mahasabha decided to hand over balloons and masks to visitors.
Omens were terrible for the Marxists. An elephant ran amok in front of the hoarding, and fireworks never occurred. Pits dug for the explosives got filled with water. The only consolation was that the monsoon rains arrived early this year.
Thrissur Pooram is an important festival for Keralites. Lakhs come from Kerala and neighboring states and offer prayers to Bhagwan Shiva (Vadakkunnathan). The Pooram is synonymous with huge processions, elephants wearing golden ornaments, traditional music, and prayer. Something unique about the Thrissur Pooram festival is that everything in this festival is made from scratch every year.
The Thrissur Pooram was started by Rama Varma Kunhjippilla Thampuran, or Rama Varma IX, the Maharaja of Cochin (1790-1805). Before the Thrissur Pooram began, the largest festival in Kerala was the one-day Arattupuzha Pooram Festival held at Aarattupuzha. Temples in and around Thrissur also participated in this festival. However, in 1798, heavy rains and flooding meant that devotees from Thrissur could not reach Arattupuzha on time, so they were not allowed to participate in the festival, which is how Thrissur Pooram began.
Former Marxist chief minister of Kerala, EMS Namboodiripad’s ‘History of Freedom Struggle’ devoted a whole paragraph that enthusiastically praised the unique role of Savarkar in building up a revolutionary movement. A multi-volume ‘Party Document’ edited by former West Bengal chief minister Jyoti Basu had recorded Tilak and Savarkar as the greatest enemies of the British empire. Veer Savarkar himself supported pluralism and secularism but at the cost of Hindus. Yet today’s Communists and Marxists resort to seizing balloons and masks that have his face.