‘Secularism’ hits Govt buses in Red Kerala

via VR Jayaraj | Kochi -Daily Pioneer published on October 24, 2010

In Left-ruled Kerala, special bus services of public-owned Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) operating to places of worship will no more bear signs of praises to God, religious symbols or pictures of deities. The corporation’s headquarters has reportedly issued orders regarding this already.

Special KSRTC buses operating to the Hindu pilgrim centres used to bear signs like “Swami Saranam”, Saranam Ayyappa” and “Amme Narayana” but these would be avoided totally from now on. According to the corporation, this step is being adopted to avoid problems related to religious sentiments.

As part of the new bus-secularization move, special buses plying to Pampa, the base camp for the shrine of Lord Ayyappa among the Sabarimala mountains, would not have such signs or pictures of Lord Ayyappa. The Sukta “Swami Saranam”, which used to be printed on the tickets for the special buses, would also be avoided.

The annual 70-day Sabarimala pilgrimage season, during which an average of four crore devotees visit the hill shrine, will start on November 17 this year. The new secularization programme in the KSRTC is expected to be implemented on the special buses from this season itself.

A circular in this regard was issued to all units of the KSRTC by its Chief Traffic Officer In-charge and Executive Director (Operations) on Thursday last saying, “(Suktas like) Swami Saranam or Amme Narayana should not be written on buses or printed on tickets or exhibit religious symbols, suktas or signs while conducting special services”, a report said.

A report quoted Kerala’s Transports Minister Jose Thettayil as saying that the inscription of religious suktas on the buses could create controversies related to religious sentiments. It said he had given instructions in this regard to the managing director of the corporation earlier.

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