Actress Amala Paul was denied permission to enter Thiruvairanikulam Mahadeva temple in Ernakulam district for a darshan citing ‘Hindu customs’ by the authorities on Monday. The actor alleged ‘religious discrimination’ while the temple authorities claimed they were duty-bound to follow the customs and ‘afraid of the controversies as she is a celebrity’.
The actor visited the temple for darshan on the last day of the annual 12-day Nadathurapp festival at the Sree Parvathy temple in the same compound. However, the temple authorities denied her entry citing customs which permit only Hindus inside the temple premises. Amala Paul said she was refused darshan, forcing her to take a glimpse of the Goddess from the road in front of the temple.
Amala Paul shared her experience as well as her protest in the temple’s visitors register, saying that she ‘felt the grace of the goddess even though she couldn’t go near her.’
“I am sad and disappointed that even in 2023 religious discrimination exists. I couldn’t go to Devi, but I feel fortunate to have felt her grace at least from a distance. I wish this religious discrimination changes and we all will be treated as human beings and not religious beings,’ Amala Paul wrote in the temple visitor’s register.
The temple officials told News 18 Malayalam that they were only following the existing protocols.
“This is a temple that follows Hindu customs. Some devotees belonging to other religions visit the temple, but no one knows that. However, when a celebrity from another community comes, it becomes a controversy. For example, many Christians and Muslims may be visiting the Guruvayoor temple. However, the issue is only on entry for Yesudas as he is a celebrity. Yesterday Amala Paul came for a darshan. We asked her about her religion as she came to the office. We asked her whether she underwent any conversion to Hinduism, and she answered no. So we denied our difficulty to provide her entry into the temple as it can be a controversy. We told her to have a darshan from the road and she accepted. She came back to the office and we offered her prasadam,” said Trust secretary Prasoon Kumar.
However, a large number of right-wing Hindu leaders came in her support on social media. ‘The rationale behind denying entry to a believer from another religion into a temple must be challenged as it (the authorities) allows a person born in a Hindu family to visit and to rule the temples even if he or she is a non-believer and a destroyer of the temple (sic),’ said RV Babu, a prominent leader of Hindu Aikya Vedi, a Sangh Parivar organisation, in a Facebook post which brought the incident into the light. KP Sasikala, state president of the Hindu Aikya Vedi too shared this view on her Facebook wall.
A unique feature of this temple near Kalady, renowned as the birthplace of great Adisankara who advocated the treatise of Advaitha Vedanta, is that the deities of Siva and Parvathy in the temple face in the opposite direction. Lord Shiva, the chief deity of the temple sits facing the east while the Goddess Parvathy faces the west. Another unique feature is that the sanctum Sanctorum of Goddess Parvathy is open only twelve days a year. This year it was from January 5 to 16. It is believed that Lord Shiva and Parvathy grant blessings for marriage to devotees.
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