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By Aditya Aamir

Sujata. Girija. Lalitha. The trio caused an upheaval at the Sabarimala temple Wednesday morning. Blame it on Kerala women and coconut oil, Parachute! One of the ladies did not look her age (52), her hair darker than a tropical forest, her time on earth looking less than the required 50+ summers, and the male Ayyappans surged in protest, over 3,000 defiant bristling chins. The 2,300 policemen were no match and it required an Aadhaar test of age for tempers to settle. The Kerala Police enterprise to dictate proceedings, control the chessboard, came a complete cropper.

Sujata, Girija and Lalitha were allowed the coveted ‘darshanam’ and they returned home (Trichur), satisfied but shaken. This was not what Kerala Chief Minister PinarayiVijayan anted. Some top police officials will have to answer to why police bundobast was in shocking disarray? Why devotees were not sent packing immediately after their rendezvous with Swami Ayyappa? As was the plan.

The plan was to keep them on the move, not take root. But, like they say, the best laid plans of men and mice… The 25-hour window to try once more to implement the Supreme Court order on women’s entry into the Sabarimala Ayyappa temple was closing by the hour, and it looked like mission impossible by the minute. The Haindava resolve not to let even one ‘yuvati’ into Swami Ayyappan’s “sight” was rock solid. Neither lack of drinking water nor locked toilets could take the rock out of their solidarity.

No wonder much maligned ‘faith’ could run the gauntlet of centuries. Friday evening, a staunch communist brought his 30-year-old wife and two children aged 5 and 6 to Sabarimala, insisting that the wife be taken to the Ayyappa temple under police protection. Wife was reluctant but husband would not budge. A quick police check revealed he was a murder accused! Then, to the relief of the police, wife’s family arrived looking for “missing Anju.” Game Over!

The BJP-RSS game-plan to take advantage of the “golden opportunity” provided by the SC directive, was on course. UDF and LDF went to town with “Sridharan Pillai’s criminal pettiness”, with TV news anchors asking both political formations, “Why is he not in the dock and you all in the witness box, it doesn’t add up?” But, of course, it wouldn’t, what did they think? The BJP is a political party and a pretty blatant one at that, with a bagful of lowdown tricks. The Hindu consolidation around Sabarimala was a work in progress and the BJP owned it.

Did Chief Minister PinarayiVijayan err on the side of choosing the wrong side; that of the progressive instead of the regressive? Did the Congress opt right by staying neutral; with the devotee, but against the communal, in a scenario where it was hard to distinguish between the two? Maybe. But bottom-line is, the Haindava forces have succeeded in convincing Hindus that they are the “oppressed”, and it was time to “correct the historical wrong.”

There is no data showing a swing in the BJP’s favour, but if the fortunes of a Haindava television channel, Janam TV, are taken as a weathercock, there is an upsurge in Hindu sentiments. The Barc ratings of Janam TV rose from rock bottom to second high in a matter of a fortnight, just behind Asianet TV, which is partly owned by BJP MP Rajeev Chandrashekhar and is contemptuously called “Vasiyanet” by the Malayali Hindutva for its pro-LDF slant.

The Sabarimala Temple closes Tuesday night at 10 pm and then it is for the Supreme Court to rule on the clutch of review petitions on November 13. Depending on what the top court decides, the battle will come to an end or go ahead unchecked. It is not without significance and symbolism that gender equality and gender justice are facing a test in a society which is supposed to be famously matriarchal but is actually notoriously patriarchal.

That said, winning entry into Sabarimala is not going to make a marked difference to gender inequality. Hinduism has a plethora of 36,000 million gods and goddesses and if each one of them is not indistinguishable from the other, unique in some or the other way, then why have as many at all?

A slaughter of gods is in order, and Lord Swami Ayyappa could be the first to face the guillotine. The best is, because he’s celibate, there will be no heir! And if anybody at all will mourn, besides the disenfranchised Thantri family, it will only be the unwed Malikappurathamma! Let the slaughter of gods begin. But, of course, it’s a joke only, take the ‘s’ out of slaughter and what is left is
laughter! (IPA Service)

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