P. A. Chacko, S. J.
I am a proud Malayalee. Not because I am a St Thomas Christian. Not because I am not a Hindu, Muslim or any other. But because Kerala is proud of its history of human solidarity.
We have umpteen representations of God in different manifestations conceived by human imaginations. They are displayed by sky-embracing steeples of churches, golden domes of mosques, inviting temple arches, mind boggling grottos, scintillating sanctuaries and the like. The high rise compound walls of such pilgrim centres proclaim the privacy of the deity and the fervour of the devotees.
But, beyond all these divine destinations, that which stands out is a wholesome feeling that we are all Malayalees, Hindus, Christians, Muslims, dalits and all. We like to bury our personal beliefs and rituals within the precincts of our sanctum sanctorum and not let it pour out on to the streets with swords, lances and bombs.
We do not object to the Hindu brethren taking out their temple processions along the streets in front of our churches or mosques. We don’t direct hand bombs into their midst to scare their elephants and to create a melee. There are traditions in some parts of Kerala when a Christian procession passes in front of a temple, a Hindu pujari comes out and offers ritual blessing of the sort. Devotees going to Sabarimala temple offer donations in some churches along their route.
Id or Christmas, Trichur Puram or Onam celebration, all have a community flavour of appreciation and cooperation by all communities. They are devoid of any communal vulgarity.
No wonder, when Kerala was drowning under the floods, it was not the time for the Keralites to stand and stare. Rather, they plunged into action by jumping over temple walls or by throwing open sanctuaries and divine precincts for flood-affected victims. There was no spell of ‘mine and thine.’ People of all faiths and factions formed a human chain to form a humanitarian rescue team for the affected. Even non-Keralite migrant labourers joined in solidarity.
They were not in any way Kollywood or Bollywood film setup scenarios but livewire scenes of the mass of humanity floating, drowning, getting washed away, some stuck on rooftops while some others on tree trunks. There was no time to say ‘thine and mine’ or ‘ours first and theirs later!’
This solidarity was not because Kerala was cent percent literate or because people wanted to grab headlines. It was sheer human feeling transformed into compassion. The suffering of the other in this mind-shattering tragedy is mine too. So each one thought!
It is this human compassion (cum-passio or suffering with) and solidarity that have been appreciated by people all over of India and abroad. The feeling of solidarity was not just on the spur of the moment. It has been there for ages in our DNA. This happy and peaceful co-existence and commingling! Not just tolerance or accommodation. We have had, and still have, temples and churches, sanctuaries and mosques rubbing shoulders and proclaiming that the God of humanity is not the private property of one community or of another. That, in this land religious rancour, ritual glory, visceral hatred, and prudish pride have no place and we all feel and live as one community.
So far so good! But, one wonders, if this civilized life style and community code are not being hampered by sorts of politically motivated religious fundamentalism being ushered in by sinister agents! In fact, it appears to be a sinister happening. Dark clouds are meandering. Reports have gone viral that, even during the flood relief operations, some such vested interests were floating photographs of some previous relief operations elsewhere and were plying covered empty trucks to and fro to show that their humanitarian relief operations were being conducted by them on a warfootting. Such headline grabbing hypocrisy is not the DNA characteristic of the Malayalee community. But, if such hypocrisy is creeping in, then it is time to sit up and take notice of it and root out those hellish forces which pander to such gimmicks. Otherwise, they will eat into the marrow of our hitherto healthy community life and transform it into a cancerous gangrene.
Political affiliations apart, all Malayalees should spurn such forces which have a pre-planned political agenda dripping political passion and communal venom. It is not difficult to identify them or spot them out. We are witnessing such harsh realities in many other Indian states, particularly in the north.
May God save his ‘own land’ and its people from such viruses! May he help us to keep that human chain of compassion and solidarity unbroken for ages to come!
The Temple Entry Proclamation was issued by Maharaja Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma in 1936 and abolished the ban on the so called ‘low caste people’ or avarnas from entering Hindu temples in the Princely State of Travancore, now part of Kerala, India.
The proclamation was a milestone in the history of Travancore and Kerala. Today, Temple Entry Proclamation Day is considered to be a social reformation day by the Government of Kerala.