That Kerala is once again falling into the trap set by BJP and Sangh parivar in the Sabarimala issue, was once again manifested through the hardships caused by the unexpected hartal on Saturday.
It may not take much intelligence to comprehend that the absurd drama playing out in Sabarimala is not for protection of faith or of sanctity of tradition. If anyone declares hartal during the mandala season, and if there is no attempt to ensure that a hartal in the name of Ayyappa devotees does not affect the Pathanthitta and Ayyappa devotees, it is only because that has no connection with faith. In many places it was the devotees themselves, who were on their way for Ayyappa darshan, that were held hostage by the hartal on Saturday. Many pilgrims who were stranded in railway stations and bus-stands were denied anything to eat or drink or facilities for nature's call. It all led to devotees themselves protesting against the hartal. It does not bode well for Kerala that violent gangs, within hours after the hartal call, were able to dominate the streets of the state 'peacefully' with provocative slogans and angry processions.
The real harship inflicted collectively by the protest programmes planned by political parties, Hindu community organizations, government in Pampa and sannidhan and the control measaures against them, caused hurdles for the rights of devotees who were coming with dedicated souls for the gratification of darshana. Most devotees were sad that due to the severe restrictions imposed by the government to prevent protests, they were not able to perform rites with Ayyappa darshana. And they were further aggrieved over not being provided with ample amenities. The government has the obligation to obviate a situation in which they are not able to spend sufficient time in the sannidhan or have proper rest and having to descend back from the hill with that regret. And steps for that are to be taken immediately too. At the same time, the BJP's state leaders are waiting to show up, to lead the protests and mount the hill, in turns till the end of makaravilakku season. The fact that the leaders do not have any qualms about violating the traditions in the process of protests is proven by the acts of Valsan Thillankeri and K Surendran. Nor does Sreedharan Pilla have any compunction to justify them without any binding to maintain tradition-dictated practices. As for the Congress, it is simply looking flaggergasted and outwitted by the emotional invasions of BJP. The Sabarimala incidents reinforces the fact that the Congress is in mood to learn any lesson from its old habit of first stirring religious frenzy and later losing.
The Congress, Sangh Parivar and left parties had at first welcomed the court verdict. Still, if they failed in addressing the concerns of Ayyappa devotees with maturity and restraint, that could have led to a solution, that is only because they took it as a golden opporotunity to use for political growth.
Poltical fortune seekers, who shy away from treading the path strewn with thorn and pebble, and the severities needed to access people's minds, have been trying to use Sabarimala as a ladder to ascend the steps to power with ease. In this lies the crux of the social crisis Kerala is experiencing as a result of this. Religious communities by and large are those who internalize the values necessary to weave a social fabric without skirmishes and maintaining diversities, and to build around it a happy pluralistic milieu. There are no issues here warranting us to array Hindu, Muslim and Christian priests hand in hand, to make them sing hymns in chorus, as at the end of old school plays. Instead, what we have is a crisis caused by the political machinations betraying the devotees and arousing emotions. It is not religious communities but the hidden agenda of politicans that convert the Sabarimala judgement into sentimentalism of faith, Hindu sectarianism and religious polarization and finally make it a social law and order issue. It is the interests of them, who have no links to devotion or faith, that splinters Kerala's social life and makes it strife-torn. Political parties ceaselessly create social unrest through unwise acts, without showing any responsibility to the society and social life, and by taking the plunge spurred by poliltical ambitions. What all political parties should do is to ask for people's forgiveness for having created artificial communal polarization, and for having vitiated social circumstances, and then disperse from Sabarimala. With that will end the current hostage status of community polarization prevailing in Kerala.