Intro: Christians and Muslims are targeting pilgrims at Sabarimala Ayyappa Temple and are wooing unabated religious sentiments.
There is a saying that for pilgrims proceeding to Sabarimala to have darshan of Lord Ayyappa, even the stones and thorns through the forest path are also feel like mattresses and flowers to them. But over the years, both the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPM) and Congress regimes and of either Christian or Muslim groups are literally turning the Sabarimala Pilgrimage into an ordeal for the 6-8 crores of pilgrims, coming from all over the world, during the period of November-January.
With each pilgrim (Ayyappa) contributing not less than Rs 5, 000/- to the Kerala economy, the revenue generated comes to whooping Rs 30, 000 crore, as per humble estimates. In fact Kerala is surviving on Sabarimala income, but the ultimate aim of vested interests is to fleece, exploit and humiliate the Ayyappas.
The infrastructure and amenities for the pilgrims are pitiable. Even primary facilities like toilet, drinking water and rest rooms are not available. Inadequate and arrogant police behaviour make pilgrims wait in queues for 8 to 10 hours without food, water and toilet facilities. Water from the adjacent Kunnar Dam is not timely and properly let into the Pampa River, triggering acute water shortage for the ritualistic bath. There are frequent power outrages in the forest route, forcing the pilgrims to walk in total darkness, in the wild animals infested forest route. During this season, 300 toilets have been dismantled causing untold woes to the ayyappas.
Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) stalwart Kummanam Rajasekharan and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader PK Krishnadas have attacked the Congress led United Democratic Front (UDF) and the temple board for imposing penalty on voluntary organisations for providing ‘Annadhan’. They alleged that instead of promoting and providing ‘Annadhan’, the temple is helping the Christians and Muslims dominated hotel lobby to fleece the Ayyappas. Also the state run Transport Corporation had withdrawn the special status to Sabarimala, leaving the pilgrims to the mercy of Christian and Muslim fleet operators. Moreover, the number of vehicles and personnel of the Transport Department, under the 300 kms Sabarimala Safe Zone have gone down drastically, forcing acute traffic blockage and accidents.
Two years back, in the name of Mullaperiyar Dam issue between Kerala and Tamil Nadu, Christian goons attacked pilgrims and vehicles coming from Tamil Nadu. When Abdul Nasser Madhani, a Muslim political leader was arrested by Tamil Nadu and Karnataka for bomb blasts hundred of vehicles and thousands of pilgrims were attacked by Muslim groups like National Development Front (NDF), Popular Front of India (PFI), People's Democratic Party (PDP) etc. Dreaded terrorists wanted by Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), National Investigating Agency (NIA) etc. have been arrested near Sabarimala and major temples like Sabarimala and Guruvayur are still under ‘Jihadi’ scanner. Controversies are created every year to belittle the pilgrimage.
The basic issue is that, the 46% Christian and Muslim population of Kerala cannot relish the Hindu Unity in Sabarimala where crores unmindful of caste, colour, language or state, move as one, for Lord Ayyappa’s blessings. Total Unity of the Hindus and strengthening of them, through BJP, is the only answer. The BJP has to take a more pro-active role. Prime Minister Narendra Modiji is planning visit to Sabarimala. Hindus hope this visit will trigger massive developments and declaration of Sabarimala as a National Pilgrim Centre.
—S Chandrasekhar from Thiruvananthapuram