While the Communists claim to be averse to any kind of religion, but in Kerala the LDF government has been eyeing to take over the control of all Hindu temples where devotees make hefty donations
Binu P Kandiyil
“Temple is just a building with four walls, idol is just a stone”, was a famous slogan in Malayalam parroted by the communists a few decades ago. Almost all temples in Kerala would have heard this in the 1980s when the Communism was at its peak the world over. This was how the Communists disregarded and mocked Hindu temples then. But today, the same Communists have come to occupy prominent posts in the administration of temples all over Kerala. Whether it is a temple under the ambit of the Devaswom board or a temple of a private trust, the Communists are the authorities who call the shots. Those who saw Hindu temples as a mere building and the deity as a stone, are today enjoying every facility available in the temple premises and unabashedly covet the temple properties for the moolah it accrues.
Acquiring temples by Devaswom boards is common in Kerala, especially the Malabar Devaswom board. On target are all those temples which have high revenue and are not under any specific organisation or Mathias. The takeover is usually by force with scant regard for the
sentiments of the devotees. Truth is, the police have to confront the devotees and literally wrangle with them at most of the temples the board acquires forcibly. Guruvayur Parthasarathi Temple, which was forcefully acquired last week is their most recent target.
In 2010, an employee organisation aligned to the Left filed a case in the Kerala High Court and the Deputy Commissioner of Devaswom board for a salary hike at the Guruvayur Parthasarathy Temple. Their petition also asked the board to acquire the temple. But the court rejected their plea and asked the Devaswom board to support the temple in administration and aid it to implement best practices with reasonable regulations.
In 1972, large portions of the same Parthasarathy temple were destroyed in heavy rains. A Huge sum of money was required to rebuild the temple. A trust was formed under the societies act in 1973 with the aim of collecting money from people to aid in the reconstruction. Many elderly devotees even today recall the struggle they had to undergo to raise the required funds. They even requested the public for donations through Radio Ceylon and solicited their support in the renovation of the temple. After years of struggle, the required funds were collected and large portions of the temple were reconstructed in 1981.
On the wee hours of November 7, 2017 in a dastardly act oblivious to the sentiments of the devotees, the obstinate communist government ordered the forceful takeover of the Parthasarathy temple. The temple and its surroundings seemed like a strife-torn area with a squad of 300 policemen, led by 3 ACPs who were pressed into service to take over the temple.
The police reached the temple surreptitiously at 2.20 AM, early in the morning when people were asleep, they broke open the temple door and entered inside. Protests erupted outside the temple as soon as the devotees came to know of the government's cowardly act. What angered the devotees more was the spineless act of the officers who acquired the temple when none of the devotees was present in the temple.
The spineless administration is so wary that it ordered the police to not allow devotees to enter the temple. The stranded devotees, many of whom are daily visitors of the deity, are left protesting for the right to enter the temple which they themselves funded. This heart-wrenching scenario persists at the temple, even after a week.
Entire Hindu society in Kerala is upset and dismayed at this insensitive and ruthless move of the government. Naturally, the society is asking as to why this treatment is meted out to Hindu temples alone. Social media compared Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to Tipu Sultan who destroyed many Hindu temples and looted their resources throughout his reign. The Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowment Act of 1951 allows State Governments and affiliated boards to take over Hindu Temples and exercise complete control over them and their properties. There are allegations that politicians who head the Devaswom boards treat them as their personal fiefdoms
(The writer is a blogger and is attached to many social organisations )