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Saturday, May 18, 2024

Should centre help develop Sabarimala? The sorry state of temples under Communists

Rajeev Chandrasekhar, the central minister of state for Electronics and Information Technology, visited the Bhagwan Ayyappa Temple at Sabarimala (his 26th visit) early Thursday morning and offered prayers. He said Prime Minister Narendra Modi might visit Sabarimala soon. 

Rajeev added that the central government would provide all kinds of assistance for Sabarimala development and is ready to develop any new plans. He assured Hindus that if the Devaswom Board is ready to prepare a proper plan and submit it to the Center, all support will be there. Why is this a colossal blunder? 

On Friday morning, a devotee from Thiruvananthapuram came to Sabarimala with an offering. A gold chain made of 108 sovereigns worth approximately Rs 45 lakhs. The Hindu devotee is an NRI businessman who requested that his identity remain unknown. He came with his friends, took blessings, prayed well, offered the necklace in front of the Sanctum Sanctorium, and left without a fuss.

Thousands of traders and farmers from south Bharat have partnership deeds mentioning Bhagwan Ayyappa as a partner in their firm. They believe that doing so brings them good luck. From the sheer volume of offerings that pour in, it is pretty clear that the strategy works well. Truckloads carry the cash and ornaments to our state treasuries.

No matter what the central government does, Temples will decay in Kerala. Marxist authorities will divert funds for priorities like paying themselves salaries or minority appeasement. The offerings mentioned above show that local Hindus know how to maintain temples. Why does a supposedly Hindutvavadi government in New Delhi think that only Hindus are corrupt?

Centre re-distributing wealth that devotees offer into the hands of Islamist ministers and atheist temple administrators is never a good idea. If he is honest, Rajeev should speak to PM Modi, free all temples from local government control, hand them over to devotees for administration, arrange checks and balances and then claim a stake by diverting public funds to our Temples.

Hindus understand that the ‘secular’ government will not have the guts to do so. Let us look at what we know and why temples are in neglect.

Earlier this year, the concrete roof of the Shri Krishna Temple in Valiya Kalavoor Temple near Alappuzha collapsed during a “Choroonu” ritual. 

Choroonu is a Hindu ceremony performed when a child is six months old. Babies are given solid food for the first time in their lives and are fed rice, dal, and kheer. Earlier it was the maternal uncle who performed the Choroonu, but today, the father performs the ceremony. The child is cleansed, wears new clothes, and taken to the Temple, where a lamp is lit, and we sit on the ground facing east.

Satvik food is first offered to Bhagwan Ganapati in a plantain leaf. The person performing the ceremony takes the child in his lap and feeds the baby a small quantity of cooked rice. Others repeat the same. The food offered to Ganapati is then shared by all assembled. After the ceremony, an Annadanam should also be performed.

In the recent roof collapse incident, three family members, including the baby’s mother, were injured. A Division Bench consisting of Justice Anil K. Narendran and Justice P. G. Ajithkumar from the Kerala High Court initiated suo moto proceedings to investigate the accident. The Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) manages the Temple, and the court pulled up the members for failing their statutory duties.

A TDB advocate informed the court that they had removed the entire roof. He added that a proposal made by the executive engineer for its repair and maintenance is pending sanction from the chief engineer. So there are two government ministries involved, and this is where the hustle begins.

Our TDB minister is famous for refusing to bow before Bhagwan Ayyappa and treating Punya Theertham (holy water) as a sanitizer. Kerala Devaswom minister K Radhakrishnan was visiting the Sabarimala Temple with TDB President Ananthagopan to ‘welcome devotees’ when he indulged in cheap dramatics. He has also used brute force inside Temples and seized them. Ironically, this minister has no issues joining hands in prayer at other places of worship. Some argue that he is a crypto Christian. 

Another ministry involved in the repairs and maintenance of Temples is the Public Works Department (PWD), headed by Mohammed Riyas, CM Pinarayi Vijayan’s son-in-law. He is a product of generations-old reverse planning who wears three-piece suits and tours the middle east. Riyas is reportedly corrupt, greedy, and rabidly anti-Hindu. To put it lightly, Temples are not on his priority list. So our central minister will depend on these people to revive our Temples?

The court observed that from the provisions of the Travancore-Cochin Hindu Religious Institutions Act, it is explicitly clear that the Devaswom Board and its officials are duty bound to establish and maintain proper facilities in the Temple for the devotees. The Temple Advisory Committee is duty bound to help the Devaswom Board. The court directed the Chief Engineer to check whether any other temple structure under the Devaswom Board poses threats to devotees. Suppose any structure poses safety threats in any temple under the Devaswom Board, the Maramath (repairs and maintenance) wing should ensure that devotees are not permitted to enter the structure. 

A visit to any local Devaswom temple will ensure the hollowness of such ‘orders.’ Lakhs throng the 1,500-year-old Chottanikara Bhagavathy Temple near Ernakulam each year. It is one of the most visited shrines in South Bharat, where Bhagavathy is worshipped as Saraswati in the morning, Lakshmi during the day, and Durga in the evening. She embodies all three forms of Shakti (Feminine Divine). Even as you approach the Temple, chants of “Amme Narayana, Devi Narayana, Lakshmi Narayana, Bhadre Narayana” resounds from all directions.

On August 15th, a wall section of the Bhagavathy temple caved into the Temple pond. Fortunately, no casualties were reported. Devotees said the lower part of the wall had given way two days ago, but the authorities did not take any action. A tragedy was averted because there were no people when the wall caved in. A video of the wall collapsing and falling into the pond surfaced, but not a single mainstream media house reported the incident. The entire Temple lies in shambles while Devaswom employees hurry devotees to buy trinkets near the Sanctum Sanctorum and chit-chat indifferently.

Around the same time, the roof of the Panoli Ayappa temple in Thalassery near Kannur collapsed. A falling coconut tree shattered the canopy and the walkway of the Temple. A team led by Advocate Narayanan Kooteri (Chairman of the temple trustee board) visited the Temple to evaluate the damage. Temple authorities lamented a loss of over one lakh rupees due to the damage. They said it was necessary to find sufficient funds to renovate the Temple and added that funds are scarce! Ten years ago, locals had paid to renovate the roof. So then, why do we need Devaswom boards?

Suppose one were to think of the two wealthiest Temples in Kerala, Guruvayur and Sabarimala, are in great shape; think again. In June, one of the staff quarters of the Guruvayur Devaswom at Thekke Nada (South Entrance) toppled. The residents escaped uninjured. The building collapsed when the walls of the first floor caved in. Nobody was staying on the ground floor. The families of two temple watchmen on the top floors ran out of the building. Authorities shifted the residents of the adjacent buildings in the complex to other quarters.

An ancient Vishnu temple in the Pathanamthitta district in Kerala has crumbled because of the negligence of the Devaswom board. The Temple’s Sanctum Sanctorum’s disintegration started half a century ago, and criminals stole the deity. For years, there has been no idol or pujari, giant trees have grown inside the temple, and devotees occasionally come up to light a lamp.

Surprisingly, the temple is located a few kilometers from where the Devaswom Board president lives. Despite repeated requests from the locals, he neither visited the Temple nor took any action to renovate it. A school building constructed on the temple property with an expense of over Rs 60 lakh is on the verge of destruction.

Hindus who cried hoarsely when the Taliban destroyed Bamiyan should introspect about the use of such evil tactics happening closer to home. It is not just the Islamist and Christian converts who are at play but also the Hindus in Name Only (HINOs). What Tipu did openly in Malabar is now covertly done by his descendants all over Kerala.

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