Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Should Non-Hindus Enter Temples?

Kerala is famous for its communal amity. People belonging to each caste and religion live a life of their own, making sure that they do not interfere with the activities of the others. But, of late, there are some attempts from some ‘political’ corners to bring in a divide among the communities. I would not say that this is done with some vested interests, but the person concerned might want to be known as a ‘revolutionary’ reformer.

The case in question is entry to Guruvayur.

The issue of Devaswom Minister Sri. G Sudhakaran writing to the Guruvayur Devaswom probing the possibility of admitting Yesudas into the temple is likely to grow into alarming proportions. Thanks to the tolerance of the Hindus and the accommodating mentality of Yesudas, it may after all, fizzle out with no consequences.

The most ludicrous thing about the issue is that neither Yesudas, nor any person belonging to his or any other religion did express a desire to enter the temple. The concept is purely a mental child of the Minister, in his eagerness to promote himself as a social reformer.

The first question here is whether the Devaswom Minister has any right to order such a step. In fact, it is not an order, but only a suggestion made in good spirit. What the Minister did not realize is that it is not under his purview to even suggest such a thing.

Temples are not public properties. Each one is, or was, owned by certain families or groups of people and is promoted by the devotees. If the devotees have faith in the particular God in the temple, it will grow in wealth and fame, as it happened in the case of Guruvayur. On the other side, there are hundreds of temples left uncared for by anybody and have no means to subsist. Nobody makes any claim over the right to enter such temples or donate anything to maintain them. The Government is vested only with the supervisory power to oversee the administration of the temples; it doesn’t have the right to make drastic changes in the traditions, conventions and rituals of the temples.

Guruvayur, as it happens, is one of the richest temples because there are thousands of devotees bent upon donating in cash and kind to its already overflowing coffers. But, it is wrong to conceive any singer as a true and faithful devotee. The songs are written by someone and tuned by some others; what a singer does is only render it in the sweet sound that he or she is blessed with, during a run for money and fame. The singer cannot claim to have sung in praise of the Lord only because of devotion, since the motive perhaps also included making money. True, the merchants of Bhakti might have also made the best use of his cassettes in their eagerness to promote the God, but that does not enable any singer to be labeled as a true devotee. That is not enough reason to justify an entry into the precincts of the temple.

Well, for a person like Yesudas, a mere entry inside the four-walls of the temple may not be a great achievement to reckon. There are two reasons for this: One, as a singer, he has realized the ultimate God through music; secondly, the temple itself is not ‘pure enough’ for a person of his stature to enter.

The second statement requires further explanation. God does not need any protection. He is not to be contained within the four walls of the temple. It is the people, the administrators and the priests surrounding Guruvayurappan who require the walls. The rituals of the temple are meant to protect the rights of certain groups of people, and on many occasions, they cross over propriety. When devout worshippers are forced to stand in long queues for hours together to have a darshan of the God, the VIPs and VVIPs, mostly politicians and relatives of Board Members, get a free and quick entry. The regular misappropriation of the offerings and temple funds certainly need the cover of the four walls. If such things are done outside the walls, they might be termed as theft. Another ritual in question is the act of conducting ‘Punyaha’, when a non-hindu is caught red-handed, entering the temple. Who can make sure that no non-hindu enter the temple ‘incognito’ or without revealing the identity? The God is not concerned about it perhaps, but His ‘protectors’ are keen to catch such ‘culprits’ to make some money out of it. A non-hindu may not enter the temple, but if he makes a sumptuous donation, it is welcome and glorified.

Places of worship are now becoming social institutions to allow a certain group of people to make a living. Some of them have nothing to do with faith in the omnipresent God. They are institutionalized in the names of certain idols bearing some name of god. The difference between the two is like that between H2O and water in a pond. The latter is oft-used and perhaps dirty; still, those who use it know its use. Others may not want to enter it or use it at all.

Changes in human behavior cannot be brought about in a day or by an individual. The culture of Hinduism is so strong and all-inclusive that irrational traditions will make way for rational ones in the long run. The true spirit of Hinduism enfolds everyone, to whatever caste, creed or religion one might belong. Those with vested interests may try to withhold changes for some time, but not for ever. There will be a time when the boundaries of human segregation will fade out and all will bask in the Glory of that Single God. There is light at the end of the tunnel and we are certain to move towards it in future.


Anonymous said...

I am curious where all the money donated to gurvayoor temple goes, it is one of the worst maintained with least amount of amenities to pilgrims...i walked around that temple recently, it is a pile of garbage...why can't they take any effort to keep the region clean and neat...why can't they install a computer queing system rather than force devotees wait 4-5 hrs for darshan and allow only VIPs to bypass the line system...and these are not expensive to implement.. Why can't they take the model of Tirupathi and construct basic amenities for pilgrims..
I think this is true with most of the big temples in kerala...sabrimala is another example

PCM said...

I am afraid the greatness of a temple is decided by the length of queue for darshan and the inconvenience to which devotees are subjected. Computerization might perhaps result in better accounting of the income, which may not perhaps be to the liking of many. The dirt all around perhaps signifies the 'clean' intentions of temple authorities. And , as the saying goes, the road to Heaven is not always smooth!

ignomus said...

dont u think temple should be made public property and how are u sure Yesudas is not a true devotee, its a matter of faith....

And don't forget, the latest row over Guruvayur broke out bcoz of the incident in which the temple authority conducted cleansing ritual because VailarRavi's son entered the temple(his mother is a Christian).
This is one of the rare instance in which i agree with the polititians, stop selling religion.


I fully endorse PCM's views on this issue.The temple is not a public property as envisaged by the reformist minister; it's sanctity is vital for it's believers.The minister reminds me of Mao's early days as the Chinese dictator when he ordered his communist troops to desecrate Buddist temples and to smash the idols to liquidate religion and faith!

PCM said...

Yesudas has never declared that he believes in Hinduism. He has sung many songs in praise of gods of almost all religions and that does not mean that he believes in all religions.
Vayalar Ravi's son has not so far declared that he is not a Christian or has not had baptism. Knowing fully well that his mother was a Christian, he should have verified his right before entering Guruvayur and conducting the offering.
If the Thanthri believes that desecration has taken place, he has every right to do Punyaham. The polititians need not make a hue and cry about it. If the Great Sankaracharya comes to my house and stays here for two days, and after that if I wash the linen he used, is it an insult to him? According to Hindu custom, one should have a bath after visiting a dead person's house. Is it an insult to the dead man?
Regarding Government bringing out orders - does the Government have the right to decide that all Muslims and Christians should pray in the same Church? Will any non-Muslim be permitted to perform Hajj?

Meera said...

When u say administrators have nothing to do with rituals, remember that it was not thanthris who issued Temple-entry proclamation, but the king of Travancore. Often rituals need to be purified. The significance of entering and praying in a place of worship varies with opinion of devotee. Some people consider it a great thing, otherwise why would devotees flock in thousands to sabarimala or thirupathi or velankanni?

There should be a debate on who should be allowed to enter a temple.. Hinduism is nt a rigid religion by any standards.. if people go to a temple, they believe in the deity.. let's not compartmentalize gods.. my hindu friends enter churches and pray because they believe god is there too.. why cant it happen in temples?

PCM said...

That's exactly the point. The administrators are there to look after the governance of the temple funds, the rituals are set by age old tradition. The Thanthris have no freedom to change them or violate them. If he feels that the temple has been desecrated, he has no other go than do the cleansing work.
The King of Travancore made the temple entry proclamation and it was universally accepted because the King is believed to be God's representative. A present minister by default cannot claim the same authority.
Only those who believe in the might of the deity in a particular temple will worship there; others might just be visitors.
As you said, Hinduism is not strict about the cult or belief a person belongs to. Hindus can be even atheists. Hinduism is not against any one praying in a Church or Mosque, but I cannot say so about other religions. Belief in other gods might perhaps invite ex-communication.

abhishek said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
abhishek said...

"The true spirit of Hinduism enfolds everyone, to whatever caste, creed or religion one might belong. Those with vested interests may try to withhold changes for some time, but not for ever. There will be a time when the boundaries of human segregation will fade out and all will bask in the Glory of that Single God. There is light at the end of the tunnel and we are certain to move towards it in future."

If everyone realized and acted upon this belief, religious conflicts would disappear. Sadly, as you noted, religions are made by man, are imperfect and by and large, have very little to do with worship and more to do with egos.

PCM said...

Just one piece of explanation. The rituals in any temple are performed according to 'Thanthrasamuchchayam', an age-old scripture pertaining to that temple, decided perhaps centuries ago. The present Thanthri is only the latest link in a long chain of generations and he is given to believe that violation of 'the given set of code of conduct' will diminish the powers of that deity. He cannot exercise any freedom in whatever he is told to observe by his predecessors.
Regarding the idols in temples, they are only 'concrete depictions' of the 'Indescribable'. They have been given some such visible form for those who cannot visualize the 'Formless'.The Supreme power that we describe as GOD has either no shape or is in the shape of all living and non-living beings.
Therefore, it follows that one doesn't necessarily have to go to a temple realize God. God is not tied within the four-walls of Guruvayur.That is why I said Yesudas has been realizing God throughout through his devotion to Music.

abhishek said...

I agree that Sudhakaran could be promoting his own social crusader image in the name of reform. Today he says that "his attempt was to expose the deep-rooted caste feelings within some people. When he spoke in favour of allowing Yesudas entry into the Guruvayur temple the caste feelings came out." I find that laughable and a vindication of your premise that Sudhakaran is trying to stir up public sentiment for personal gain.

I also agree with you that temples are properties run by tantris according to their traditions. However, I disagree that they are off limits to the domain of public law. In the past, traditions at temples have given way to more enlightened and less discriminatory practices (the opening of temples to low-caste Hindus) on the insistence of public law.

First, does it make sense to bar people who are not Hindu worshippers from the temple? I think that is a question best left to the administrators. I do know that the Guruvayoor temple is one of the oldest and best examples of temple architecture and there is scholarly merit in the argument to allow students of culture to enter the inner temple. On the other hand, I also agree with the notion that a temple is considered holy land by its administrators and is more than a cultural artifact. To me, barring non-devotees from entry is irrational, but within their domain.

I think this incident has gone to show that there is also a dichotomy within Hindu believers. A line is being drawn between those who believe that an idol is just a manifestation/focal point for worship and those who believe that the idol itself is vested with godly powers. I belong to the first camp and while I disagree with the second camp, I will defend their right to believe. And while both sets of beliefs are acceptable within Hinduism, I believe my beliefs are more tolerant and reasonable. In my books, Yesudas is a devotee of Guruyoorapan and is a Hindu if he determines that himself. Should he have to insist upon entry to Guruvayoor? No.

Yesudas should not take a rejection by the tantris of Guruvayoor as an insult upon himself, because the Guruvayoor temple has no monopoly on the worship of God/Guruvayoorapan. When Yesudas sings devotional songs for Guruvayoorapan, he proclaims his love for a God that is not rooted to a particular site. Rather, it is the site that is rooted to God. In not being able to enter the temple, Yesudas is not being denied the right to worship Guruvayoorapan, but only the right to enter a site erected to worship Guruvayoorapan. So now that we have that part of the equation cleared away, we can focus on the question of whether it is right to allow a self-proclaimed Hindu devotee to enter a temple.

The problem all along has been that there are no standards to define who is a Hindu and who is not and who would enter a Hindu temple for purposes of worshipping and who would not. The case is even more complicated when you consider that Hinduism has no central authority like a Vatican or similar clergyman.

Yet, we do have religious texts that by and large, act as guiding definitions of Hindu beliefs. So, as Krishna in the Gita says, "Whatever path men travel is my path; no matter where they walk It leads to me." To me there is no greater affirmation that everyone is a Hindu in God's eyes. If God is to be equated with reality and truth, then no man can deny reality, truth and God.

And it follows that there is no better criteria for a Guruvayoorapan worshipper other than self-determination. Words are more powerful than people give them credit and if a person proclaims his worship and belief in Guruvayoorapan as a manifestation of God, that should be enough for him to be allowed entry to the temple. In fact, as the tantris themselves acknowledge, no error is committed when you allow a devotee to enter the temple unless you know him/her not to be a devotee of Guruvayoorapan. But how do you know? How do you justify those beliefs? Do you bar people because you've seen them praying in churches? Do you bar people because their mothers are Christian? As you can see, if you begin reasoning the way of temple traditions, you begin following the path of power and discrimination rather than the power of reason and irrefutable logic. To me, there are very few valid arguments that you can set forth to bar self-proclaimed devotees from Hinduism. And none of them have been raised in Yesudas' case or in Vayalar Ravi's son's case.

Very few institutions have the will to change and enlighten themselves unless change comes from the outside. And in the end, we must insist upon change, because Guruvayoor is not just a temple, it is a social statement. To open its doors to more believers is to aid a better understanding of Hinduism and its basic principles.

ignomus said...


You got many things wrong here. .th ministers son is officially a hindu, infact its the 2nd such incident, Ravi's son had actually got married at guruvayur and at that time to the temple authority had conducted cleansing rituals but had apologized after that.

Also does a person have to be a hindu to have faith in hindu god. And what do u mean by 'publically declare' , what do u mean, is not something to brag about.

How can u compare a cleansing ritual to doing the laundry( ur reply to my last comment). I hope ur tantri's dont hear that... duhh/

And as MEERA said ppl dont feel offended when my xtian/hindu/musalmaan friends visit church and lso in other temples , infact I an proud of it, it shows our cultural unity and tolerance.

Maybe u are right the tradition are very old; maybe that is why it needs reforms. Also the whole incident is a complete embarrassment for a state like kerala which is known for the religious tolerance.
Its high time some change take place, there are the attitude from which we have to save kerala from.

ignomus ( )

MC said...

when i first read this article, i thought it was not worth discussing on this blog. but seeing the frenzy and ripples it created in Kerala, i thought its worth it to make a simple point - dont make a mountain out of an anthill!

i am not sure what the general opinion is. or even what the author himself feels about the whole thing with the guruvayoor board apologizing to vayalar and stuff.

but my opinion:

there is a total non-issue here. as usual politicians and religious leaders are just taking people for a ride and creating platforms for divisions.

i have prayed at Guruvayoor temple twice, although i am not a hindu. i have prayed at various mosques although i am not a muslim. i have prayed at churches of various beliefs and "sabhas". ultimately God is within you, in your thoughts and in your actions. rest is all a sham.

a LOT of religious leaders are now equal to their brethren in politics, and have successfully used shamelessness, intolerance and corruption to manipulate people in the name of God. we have no one else to blame except ourselves. we let politicians become monsters and create hell for us. we are just allowing some vested interests to do the same in the name of God as well.

pray and lets other pray. believe in God. lets not claim supremacy over one another in the name of God. God sees us all as same.

i know i sound too cliched. but truth cannot be said in another way. kerala is slowly becoming communal and these kind of rubbish non-issues are only making it worse.

PC said...

Maybe I missed your point, but what is your personal opinion - should non-hindus enter the temples or not ?

Sanjeev said...

@PCM - As few guys pointed out. You got few things wrong here. You said - "The most ludicrous thing about the issue is that neither Yesudas, nor any person belonging to his or any other religion did express a desire to enter the temple. The concept is purely a mental child of the Minister, in his eagerness to promote himself as a social reformer."

As a matter of fact, Yesudas has expressed his desire to enter Guruvayoor temple many times. So, does other people including late.Kalamandalam Hyderali. And many 'non-Hindus' enter the temple everyday.

And again, you said 'temple is not a public property'. You need to define 'public'. In my opinion, temple is a public property and it should be.

Personally, I am not that crazy about a particular temple. But that is not the point. The point is - If anyone is interested in entering places like this, they shouldn't be stopped.

I agree that Minister Sudhakaran sounds little arrogant but so does these 'thantries' through their actions. Sudhakaran is just only one among us who is fighting for social justice.

Lets move forward,

pillai said...

Every temple has its customs and traditions. But some customes practiced in the Guruvayoor Temple were not good like forbidding untouchable Hindus to enter the temple or not even allowed to walk near the temple. So there were clear cut justifications. But allowing a non Hindu to enter into a Hindu temple is not acceptable.

In case of Guruvayoor, Tantri's words are final with regard to rituals and customs. Giving these powers into other people nominated by politicians will cause serious problems.

PCM said...

I think we are coming to a consensus almost. Anybody is free to visualize God as he likes and he can choose his own place for worshipping. God doesn’t mind whether a person goes to a temple or church or mosque to pray – but MEN do. If a non-Hindu enters a temple, it is a matter of concern to the men who worship there. Hinduism doesn’t make such stipulations, but the petty minds of devotees cannot accommodate such grand diversions from their practices.
I am on the side of the poor, helpless Thanthris. They have inherited this task of keeping up the traditions of the temples according to the scriptures handed down to them. They, as well as the devotees, believe that the ‘power of the deity’ will be diminished if they go against the stipulations. They try hard to hold on to the tradition they have been handed down.
The politicians have no such worries. They can say and do anything that suits the occasion, especially if they think that it has a popular appeal. They are not bound by conventions, traditions or even common sense. They will do anything to win popular support. No realms are out of bounds for them.
Let me ask one question – is there a greater act PUNYAHAM than evicting a staunch worker of the Marxist Party from his Union simply for shouting against a film star? Similar cleansing is taking place all over Kerala to keep the Party clean!

abhishek said...

"i have prayed at Guruvayoor temple twice, although i am not a hindu."

In that case, had the priests known that, they would have conducted "punyaham" and the nonsense that follows it. Wouldn't you feel insulted by that? I guess the better question at that point would be - who would have insulted you?

The chief tantri at Guruvayoor claims that they are innocent in all this and that they were merely following the established rules. He said that the Devaswom Board wrote the rules. In that case, the finger would clearly point at the Devaswom Minister and his administration itself for not changing these rules. It's ironic that Sudhakaran is running around and trying to garner public attention for insisting on change. Mr. Sudhakaran, if you think the rules are wrong, change them!

But as MC said, politicians bring out the worst in men. If superstitions and traditions are merely unhealthy discriminative, then cunning and greed are divisive. It is the latter I fear more.

PCM said...

There is a confusion here. The Guruvayur Thanthri said that he had been led to believe that a non-Hindu had entered the temple. It it is so, he was only following what the scriptures say. I quote myself:"They(The thanthris) have inherited this task of keeping up the traditions of the temples according to the scriptures handed down to them. They, as well as the devotees, believe that the ‘power of the deity’ will be diminished if they go against the stipulations. They try hard to hold on to the tradition they have been handed down." These rules are not made by the Devaswom Board, but handed down through generations.
The Devaswom Boards came much later on and they do not have the powers to frame or change the traditionally handed down rites and rituals.

abhishek said...

I'm referring to the rule that say that a person takes a religion after his/her mother. I'm not sure if this forms part of the religious tradition or Devaswom rules, but from is being reported, it is implied that it is part of the former. In that case, they are in direct contradiction of basic human rights to expression of religion as enshrined in our Constitution. I think that "culture" and "tradition" are being used unnecessarily as excuses to defend a sexist and discriminatory practice.

Rauf said...

i agree with MC, its really not worth discussing, pretty silly actually. But but but in my country non issues are big issues.

i don't think this happenes anywhere else in India,
i was stopped many times in Kerala temples. But when kerala Tourism sent me to take pictures for 'God's Own Country' campaign in a red number plate car, i was allowed even to shake hands with gods. i was given a red carpet welcome. Don't know if they washed the temples after i left.

My experience with Kerala Tourism is a very very long and painful story. happened long time ago.

Rauf said...

By the way MC, i read all the articles that appear on this page.
Thanks for sending me the updates.
i really appreciate it. i don't know who sends it. Thank you so much.

Rauf said...

Another subject that i have been planning to write is Trichur puram festival, but been postponing it for the fear of annoying my Kerala friends. It is indeed such a torture for the sensitive elephants to be exposed to hundred Chendas beating so loud. This practice of parading the elephants should be stopped, no wonder there are accidents every year. Would somebody pleasewrite on this subject.

Ajith said...

Facts wrong..Yesudas has expressed his desire to pray at Guruvayoor about four / five years back and was denied...And how can you argue that only a true believer in a religion should enter a temple ? Even among Hindus, among all people who enter the temple, do you think they are all ardent believers of Hinduism ?? Never..
Temples are supposed to be places which will disseminate the path to God to people who visit them.. And applying Punyaham because of a Christian / Muslim person entering into a temple is a disrespect to the whole edifice of Hinduism..

Mani said...

Why do non Hindus want to enter Hindu temples? ;)

As a Hindu, I have no huge desire to go to a church or a Masjid. I do want to visit a chruch/Mosque that has historical significance. However, I will always keep in mind that the place I'am visiting is place of worship first and a ARchitectural site only later.

Yesudas,has chosen to be gracefully silent about it. He never raised a hue and cry demanding entry. The current political situation is such that even if the Travancore devasom board wants to allow Yesudas' entry into the temple, it cannot do so. The issue will immediately turn into a "If yesudas is allowed why not other Christians" However in all that the questions put forwad by the media (esp. NDTV)
are by those who have a political agenda only and are even totally incapable of imagining the existence of genuine religious devotion.

As PCM said, these decisions should not be taken by the govt. and the govt. should not interfere (It already has). When the Gov't interferes (even with good intentions) it will create unrest.

If we can accept laws that allow bords with a "Rights of admission reserved/restricted" in a 5 Star hotel or in an expensive eatery that serves junk food for 3000 rupees why not a temple.

After all there would be no controversy if a person used to eating only traditional Indian food demands entry into a restaurant serving European food, doesn't like the taste and goes on ranting that the restaurant should server idli Sambar!

Rauf said...

Sorry, i forgot to mention that later on Kerala tourism decided not to use the temple pictures in their campaigns perhaps because of this problem of entry. 'we want to project kerala as a beach destination not a temple destination'
kerala has some beautiful temples, like the one in Angadipuram or Tirnelli, and Gurvayur is the least beautiful of them all.

The red number plate car made a lot of difference on all my visits.

PCM said...

Rightly said.
Each individual has his own idea of cleanliness. Some are adamant on washing the hands thoroughly before eating food; some just wipe their hands after food. If, after you finish your meals in a hotel, the hotel-boy washes the plates, do you have any reason to complain?
Similarly, in religions also, they have their own norms. In Guruvayur, they recently conducted a Punyaham because a woman spat on the floor. Some would ask if it were not enough to wash that area. The Sabarimala Melsanthi will not enter the temple premises for 12 days because his father’s sister passed away. The Muslims wash their feet and cover their heads before entering their church; The Christians are not particular that they should bathe before entering their church. The norms about how to treat the dead also differ from religion to religion. Is the system of ‘Themmadikkuzhi’ still prevalent?
The Government also feels free to interfere in the affairs regarding the temples. The temples were established by private owners long back. The Devaswom Boards were constituted for their proper upkeep and administration. They have no right to interfere in the accepted customs, rituals and traditional practices. The temples thrive because of the sumptuous donations made by the devotees out of their blind belief in the deities. Once an offering is made to the deity, the devotee is not bothered about what happens to the money. He doesn’t even verify whether the ‘Archana’ has been done.
Membership in the Devaswom Boards used to be a lucrative job till recently. The present Devaswom Minister appears to curtail the profit made by these members. Yet, I would say that the Government is eager to get a share of the huge amounts that pour into certain temples. This happens when the pilgrimage to Hajj is heavily subsidized.
The Government has no clue as to how the warring factions of Christians can be compromised; it will not speak a word about the other religions. Hinduism and the temples are subjected to any amount of criticism and ‘democratization’.
Today, I have before me the report in the Mathrubhumi about some terrorist groups threatening to attack some Hindu religious Institutions. We all read in the papers about what is happening in Baghdad and other places which are ruled by one religion alone. We have to consider this also when pleading for entry of non-Hindus into temples.
Perhaps, the amity and communal harmony existing generally in India, especially in Kerala, is not to the liking of many. Let us not confound the issue.
One last question – will anyone fight to grant permission for Muslim women to enter their mosques?

Revathi said...

The whole problem is,that we have no way of proving whether someone is hindu or not. This decision is made arbitrarily by someone who thinks he knows better than you. There are a lot of converted hindus in the west who have been denied entry into hindu temples in India since they had blond hair and even some kashmiri hindus were barred from Guruvayur since some one thought "they didnt look like hindus". Just racism in my opinion. My son wasnt allowed in because of his rather fair skin!
I think that instead of practicing open racism we can only "request" non hindus not to come in. As it is, the temples are so crowded that only the "highly devoted" would feel like getting in. I think that if self declared non belivers like marxists can walk in and out of the temple, I dont see why a person who wants to see the sanctum sanctorium even out of curiosity shouldnt be allowed.

MC said...

even from the comments, its very obvious the best and the only thing we need to do is believe and pray ourselves in a way we believe is the best. it doesnt matter whether you are born in a particular religion. if we believe in God and conduct ourselves based on that belief, how does it matter if a non-hindu entered a temple or a christian entered a mosque or any other possible religious permutations occured? first the political leaders made fanatics out of the malayalis, now the religious leaders are doing the same. and we are letting them.

religion and divisions are man-made, like the political parties. i wont say religion is unnecessary. its needed for a guidance and good upbringing, as a path to God. religion is only a PATH to the truth that is God; its not the END or the truth itself. I feel even a person who does not believe in God will be as good and blessed as a person who does, IF they do good things in their life.

ultimately the truth is that there is only one God and He doesnt give a damn whether you are hindu, christian, muslim, buddhist, jew or whatever..but slighting or discriminating one another in His name is the worst thing we can do. ok..probably not the worst..i am sure we can do worse!

Vikas said...

I know this is really beside the point but can you guys please answer these questions:

1.) Is it possible to get by (at least in the beginning) without Malayalam in Kochi/Trivandrum/other cities in Kerala? How hard is it survive in Kerala initially without knowing Malayalam? I will learn it eventually of course.

2.) Do Malayalis in Kerala (once they know English/Hindi) force you to speak Malayalam at all costs? I have never been to Kerala so please don't make fun of my ignorance.

3.) Is Malayalam compulsory in schools in Kerala (SSC/ICSE/CBSE) et al? If so, until when?

4.) How widely understood (ie at the mass level) is Hindi/English in Kerala?

Revathi said...

I dont know malayalam but I can get by very well in Kerala. I dont think Keralites are so particular that everyone should speak only malayalam. Also, keralites have a great talent for learning other indian languages since malayalam has a lot of sanskrit words. So, effectively, with hindi and a little bit of english you can get by very well- it helps to know the local language if you want to be really integrated.

Rauf said...

i don't speak malayalam either, but have great difficulty in making them understand. They have a completely different attitude outside their state. Getting to know the bus destination is an ordeal, this disease has spread to Karnataka and Andhra as well. In Tamil Nadu, all long distance and important bus destinations are written in both Tamil and English

The biggest tragedy in Kerala is they are poorly informed about their own state, though you'll find each one of them carrying a news paper. Ask them where is Mananthavadi, a well known town in Wynad, they wouldn't know.

Vikas said...

I do plan to learn Malayalam eventually but I can't be expected to speak it from Day 1. It will take me some time, that's all I'm saying. My question is from the point of view of dealing with people in Urban Kerala (rickshaw drivers, vegetable sellers, vendors, shopkeepers, government offices, private offices, college students/teachers, the man in the street in general, how hard/easy is it for someone whos completely new to Kerala/Malayalam?

Anyway, you have answered the question somewhat. However, if anyone can enlighten me further I would welcome it. For instance filling government forms-is it only in Malayalam?

Does anyone know the answer to Question no.3? ICSE/CBSE schools have Malayalam as a compulsory language?

Rauf said...

Vikas, i am not the right person to answer your questions, as i am not one of the contributors to this blog, i am an outsider like you, but i love Kerala the place but i have problems with people's attitude. Still the place attracts me for its natural beauty.

As an outsider let me answer to your first question. You have to make an effort to make yourself understood, and it is not easy.
if you are determined to love the place like me regardless of the attitude of the people, yes you can. After all they need business.

governmet offices are as painful as anywhere else in India. there is always a good samaritan to help you out.

PCM said...

The discussion is being carried away by some about some other issues. Let me settle the point.
Nobody in Kerala expects an outsider to speak Malayalam. He can speak in Hindi, English or Tamil which will be fairly understood by most people. If not, they will only be too ready to help you out. Foreigners visiting Kerala manage well with the sort of people vikas has mentioned. Let me assure you that Keralites are very hospitable to those who experience difficulty.

The schools you have mentioned give enough options other than Malayalam. If studying regional languages under the three language formula is a Central Govt policy, no one can help it. Yet you may get a choice of Sanskrit.
Of the people of all States I know, the Keralites are most accommodative and helpful as far as communication is concerned.
I hope your queries are settled. Now let us come back to the original topic.

abhishek said...

In terms of dealing with everyday people, you'll find that most have at least a spattering of English. Kerala has had strong commercial links with Europe, Africa and the Arabian states for many centuries, and that's left a strong linguistic flexibility in its people.

Questions like yours reveal the need to have a general forum where just about any topic can be asked. We are creating a community where people interested in Kerala can come together. Hope to release these new tools soon. Till then, you can post your questions here. But, it would also be great if you can comment on the topics we write here. As you'll find when you land in Kerala, Keralites love to debate and opine. That's both a good thing and a bad thing, but we believe we can channel that tendancy for good in this forum.

Anonymous said...

All i have got to say is, GOD Is One and anybody who doesn't believe in it, is the most disliked person by god no matter they are thantri,mantri or aam janta.
Nobody has any right to say who can worship which God and which place not to go or not allowed.
God is not any one's private property.

Anonymous said...

One cannot help bening amused at the demand that non Hindus should be given right of entry to Hindu temples. It becomes even more hillarious when we do not hear any non Hindu demanding such a right. Has the church demanded it?? Has the AIMPLB demanded it?? NO, NO, NO.

Does not the Constitution gaurantee the right of undisturbed worship to everybody, irrespctive of religion?? It does. Like it or not, Hindus too are covered by it. Parliament cannot enact a law for compulsory opening of Hindu temples for non Hindus, inspite of threats to such an effect.

Howsover inclusive Hinduism maybe, its temples can run as clubs, called social institutions, for all comers

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