Tale of Two Pilgrimages – Hajj and Sabarimala

published on November 21, 2010
by  Synonymous

For Keralites, the two pilgrimages – Hajj and Sabarimala – provide a case of striking resemblance and stark differentiation. It is in a way good that both are coinciding this year and thereby offering a revealing case for comparison. Though many claim an international pilgrimage like Hajj to be of a mammoth scale, it is in fact nothing in comparison to Sabarimala. While 20-40 lakhs pilgrims offer Hajj every year, the figure is 300- 400 lakhs for Sabarimala. The visual media is providing a very good comparison between the facilities offered to a Hajj pilgrim and a Sabarimala pilgrim (better word would be ‘victim’).  The usual excuse of an oil rich provider in comparison to a poor Indian nation is actually not applicable and misleading. It is the rotten pseudo-secularism of India that is creating all the problems.
Let us first look at the similarities. Both the pilgrimages provide an opportunity for understanding the essential nature of man and at least symbolically admit our insignificance. In bare minimum cheap clothing, all humans look identical and radiate a feeling of oneness. In both the cases the whole air is filled with praises of God. But the core similarity ends there. In Sabarimala, everyone is an Ayyappan in line with the concept of Advaita which proclaims that God (Ayyappan) is nothing but what is present in everything – Tattvamasi. For the Ayyappans who throng Sabarimala, God is not someone who has made them, monitors them and even reward (or punish) them. And the essential purpose of a pilgrimage to Sabarimala is to reiterate one’s oneness with God. In the case of Hajj, it is a life time duty to make the trip to the holy land of God.
For the state of Kerala, those who go one Hajj do not bring in any material wealth. But each and every Sabarimala pilgrim is bringing in atleast Rs 500/- into the state’s GDP. On a rough estimate, atleast Rs 2000 crores is brought into the state during the 2 months Sabarimala season every year. Who are beneficiaries of this huge sum of money? And what do the poor pilgrims (victims) get in return? There is not even proper facilities for urination, forget about the other vital needs. Inter-state Sabarimala pilgrims are treated almost like the truck load of slaughter cows being brought in everyday. At the end of the season every year, Devaswom Board (ie. Govt. of Kerala) is richer by atleast Rs 1000 crores on net basis. Is this the Secularism as enshrined in Indian constitution?

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