Protests held in Guruvayoor over entry curbs


Guruvayoor (Kerala) : Kerala's famed Sree Krishna Temple in Guruvayoor Monday saw unprecedented police presence with two separate protests being held over the issue of granting entry to non-Hindus.

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The Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI), the youth wing of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), staged what they called the 'second Guruvayoor Satyagraha', calling for a revival of renaissance values.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), meanwhile, began an all-women's daylong fast to protest the CPI-M's demand to bring about legislations to open up Kerala temples to all devotees regardless of their religion. Around 2,000 women are said to have observed the daylong fast.

Both the protests were held a good distance away from the temple premises.

The DYFI event was inaugurated by 93-year-old K. Madhavan who had taken part in the first Guruvayoor Satyagraha held 75 years ago that sought entry for untouchables. It was only in 1936 that untouchables were granted entry into the temples in Kerala.

Well-known litterateur and social critic Sukumar Azhikode said it was time the temple priests bow down to change in the wake of recent controversies.

"I don't know if god is still in this temple after all the shameful incidents that have occurred here over customs and traditions," Azhikode remarked.

Veteran south Indian actress Sukumari kicked off the BJP protest and the daylong women's fast.

BJP state president P.K. Krishna Das said the party was not against changes being brought about but questioned the authority Communists and atheists had in temple matters.

"The CPI-M is now attempting a Kerala version of the Chinese cultural revolution where the Communists first lashed out at cultural leaders. We want change to happen but in a peaceful way like Mahatma Gandhi advocated and not like Marx and Mao did," Das told IANS later.

The issue over allowing entry to non-Hindus was first raised by Kerala Devasom Minister G. Sudhakaran, who wrote to the temple board that eminent singer K.J. Yesudas, a Christian, be allowed to sing on the premises Hindu devotional compositions that he is famous for.

Soon after, on May 19, Guruvayoor priests performed a purification ritual after the visit of Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi and his family to the temple for the naming ceremony of Ravi's grandchild. Ravi's wife Mercy Ravi, a former Congress legislator of the Kerala assembly, is a Christian by birth.

The temple board had, however, last week apologised to Ravi's family.

Since then there have been demands from various quarters that the temple open its doors to all believers. But the supreme authority of the temple (Guruvayoor Temple Pramabarya Paricharana Samithy) last month ruled out any change.