Politicians must keep away from politicizing facilities for pilgrimages

via Naveen James - http://naveenjames.blogspot.com published on October 26, 2010

An article published in Haidava Keralam disturbed me very badly today. The article headlines
‘Secularism’ hits Govt buses in Red Kerala has once again reiterated the fact that politicians will do wonderfully well if they keep out of religious and pilgrimage related issues and concentrate on the job for which they have been elected or are in politics for.

The article mentions that Kerala government has decided to do away with the Slogans on buses which ply to the routes where there is high pilgrimage traffic. The slogans in reference were targetted to the Sabarimala temple. For ages now public transport services plying to Sabarimala have slogans like “Swami Sharanam , “Swamiye Sharam Ayyappa”. These sign boards have been of great help for piligrims visiting Sabarimala from other parts of the country mainly like Andhra,Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. These sign boards act as easy identification of services for the people who do noy know the local language Malayalam.

If these sign boards have never been a problem for decades how come suddenly the Left front government is viewing it as a possible communal tension. If at all there has been one place in the country which has lakhs and lakhs of Hindu devotees converging on a muslim dominated area without much ado or any kind of disturbances. Even on the december 6th 1992 when the nation witnessed communal tensions/riots the Sabarimala Pilgrimage,especially at Erumeli where the Babr Mosque is there was absolute harmony and peace. Many of you would be aware that as a part of the Sabarimala Pilgrimage the Ayyapa’s or swamis as the devotees are called first assemble at Erumeli to pay their respects to a muslim By name Babar Ali per the instructions of Lord Ayyappa. The devotees upon arrival at Erumeli visit the mosque of Babar and then start walking to Sannidhanam for a dharshan of Lord Ayyappa.

Another feature of this piligrimage is the location of Sabarimala in Pathanamthitta district is predominantly populated by Christians and Erumeli is populated by Muslims. The vendors who line up all along the 48 miles trek to Sabarimala from Erumaeli are either Muslims or Christians. The people of these places/villages make a great living out of the lakhs of devotees who visit Sabarimala every year. The devotees benefit from the great hospitality and generosity of these people/communities emphasizing an ultimate communal harmony. None of these community people or the general public of Kerala have ever voiced or raised an objection to the sign boards on the public transport system that ply on these routes.

Iam quite surprised and disappointed to find the left govt of Kerala wanting to do away with the sign boards citing that it will create religious controversies. What has not created any controversy in decades how can it happen now? If it happens it will be only because of the left and not any community. The statement of Kerala’s Transports Minister Jose Thettayil as saying that the inscription of religious suktas on the buses could create controversies related to religious sentiments is definitely not welcome and highly condemnable.

What is essentially a facility for people/piligrims visiting Sabarimala from other states cannot be just done away with for political parties reasons,whims and fancies.

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