Saturday, November 17, 2018

Is Sabarimala a secular temple?

Indian secularism has always been at odds with the commonly accepted meaning of the word secularism. It made a new record when the Kerala government claimed in an affidavit submitted to the High Court that Sabarimala is a secular temple “where entry of devotees is not restricted on the ground of any caste or religion”. As justification, the importance of Vavar mosque was highlighted in the pilgrim tour of some Ayyappa devotees. Given the kind of ‘secular’ atmosphere in the country, days are not far off to get a Constitutional Bench of the Supreme Court take up on a priority basis and validate the ‘secular’ nature of the Hindu temples! But there is no need for it.

If acceptance of devotees from any caste or religion is the criteria for secularism of the temple, then Hindu temples are definitely secular. Ranking high in the list are the two big temples of India, namely Srirangam and Tirupati. Lord Ranganatha of Srirangam and Lord Venkateśvara at Tirupati have accepted the devotion of women from Muslim community and even married them. These women have been given separate shrines within their temples. The marriage festival of these deities with the Muslim women is celebrated every year in their temples.

The God at Srirangam had gone a step higher in secularism, by partaking Roti, the food of his Muslim wife, everyday for his breakfast. He had been such an indulgent husband, that he takes Roti after it is offered to his Muslim wife, Surathani.

Similar episode of marriage with a Muslim devotee is reported in the temple at Melkote in Karnataka. Here the Muslim woman was said to have merged with the image of Lakshmi at the feet of the Lord. Local people worship her before conducting marriage in their families.

All these devotees of other religion are accepted and have been given a place within the temples. They are worshipped in the temples of the Hindu Gods and not outside. Can the same be said about Vavar of Vavar mosque? If the legend of friendship of Vavar with Lord Ayyappa was true, either Ayyappa would have given a place for him within his temple or ordained that he be enshrined in a temple and not in a mosque as the legend goes. If there is any truth in the Vavar legend,...Read HERE