Hindutva outfit forces Kerala temple to change colour to yellow from green

Hindu Aikya Vedi also took offence at the composition of the festival committee, which has representatives from the Muslim community.

ByK A Shaji

Published Mar 21, 2023 | 1:52 PMUpdated Mar 21, 2023 | 1:52 PM

Hindutva outfit forces Kerala temple to change colour to yellow from green

Kerala is known for its greenery, a colour that makes the Sangh Parivar see red.

For the Parivar, green is apparently associated with Islam, something Hindu institutions should shun — like the domes elsewhere in the country.

An intense Sangh Parivar campaign has now forced a Hindu temple in Muslim majority Malappuram district to change colours.

The governing body of the popular Sree Thirumandhamkunnu Bhagavathi Temple at Angadipuram near Perinthalmanna has decided to give its office complex and vazhipadu (offering) counter a fresh coat of yellow paint — the colour of sandalwood paste.

The office and the counter were sporting a green colour, painted afresh ahead of the temple’s pooram festival, scheduled to begin on 28 March.

Thirumandhamkunnu, the foremost among temples dedicated to Goddess Bhadrakali (the presiding deity, however, is Lord Shiva), stands on a serene hillock.

The erstwhile Valluvanad dynasty of feudal kings who ruled central Kerala constructed the temple centuries ago.

The temple is now under the administration of the CPI(M)-controlled Malabar Devaswom Board (MDB), with party leader MR Murali as its president.

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Sparking a row

The colour of the complex became a controversy on Sunday, 19 March, when Sasikala KP, president of the Kerala-based Sangh Parivar umbrella organisation, Hindu Aikya Vedi, shared its pictures on Facebook.

temple office

The Hindu Aikya Vedi leader took offence to the green paint and demanded it be repainted. (Sourced)

She alleged that the MDB had disfigured the temple complex by painting it green.

She also urged believers to join hands to correct the wrong committed by the “Marxist administrators” of the temple.

In another post, Sasikala declared that she had already reached Thirumandhamkunnu and submitted a memorandum to the temple administrative officer, demanding the repainting of the walls.

The former teacher, known for delivering incendiary speeches, also warned through Facebook that she would lead Hindu believers in repainting the walls if the temple managing committee failed to rectify its mistake.

“I don’t know how to paint a wall. But I would lead expert painters,” she said.

Also read: A temple ritual started by a Muslim munsiff divides the legal fraternity

Malabar Devaswom Board changes colour

On Monday, the MDB heeded the demand and painted the walls with sandalwood colour.

Thirumandhamkunnu temple

Thirumandhamkunnu Temple at Perinthalmanna in Malappuram. (Supplied)

BJP’s Malayalam mouthpiece Janmabhoomi and television channel Janam TV ran reports, accusing the CPI(M) representatives in the MDB of willfully painting the walls green to upset the devotees.

They also objected to constituting the Pooram celebration committee with Muslim representatives such as local Lok Sabha member MP Abdul Samad Samadani, district panchayat president MK Rafeeka, district panchayat member Shaharban P, grama panchayat president Sayeeda, and local MLA Manjalamkuzhi Ali.

Sangh Parivar wants an all-Hindu committee. The MDB is yet to decide on the demand.

This is not the first time Sangh Parivar has targeted the temple administration.

In 2021, the temple’s executive officer earned the Sangh Parivar’s wrath by cutting a birthday cake in his office and distributing it among employees.

The Sangh Parivar objected, saying cakes are anti-Hindu and no such new conventions would be permitted at the temple.

In the face of the latest development, the Hindu Aikya Vedi organised a Nama Japa (prayer) protest march from the temple to Angadipuram town on Monday evening, urging devotees to be vigilant against all kinds of infiltrations.

Sasikala later told Malayalam television channels that the MDB had attempted to hurt the devotees’ sentiments and provoke them.

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Pooram committee makes Sasikala angry

She also claimed that the character of the pooram organising committee made the local Hindu community unhappy.

Sasikala KP (Fcebook)

Sasikala KP (Fcebook)

“Why should there be such a composite committee for a temple festival? Can you see such a committee at a mosque festival or church celebration? Politicians outsmart devotees in the committee,” she said.

According to BJP district president Ravi Thelath, the MDB attempted to bring the temple under the control of anti-Hindu forces by applying green on its walls.

He said such moves would not be entertained by the devotees anymore.

Kerala’s temple affairs minister K Radhakrishnan termed the developments unfortunate and denied the allegation that the government supported anti-Hindu forces.

“I don’t understand the objections against green. We will strive to ensure communal harmony and amity in the face of such newly emerging threats,” he told South First.

Also read: Don’t judge us by party name or flag colour: IUML

Symbol of religious harmony

The temple has a long history of amity and harmony, and the Muslims in the neighbourhood were the first to respond when it caught fire a few years ago.

The late Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) president, Syed Muhammedali Shihab Thangal, led its renovation drive by joining the devotees.

Malappuram is traditionally an IUML stronghold. Despite an otherwise aggressive campaign by the Sangh Parivar, the district remains a powerful symbol of amity and tolerance.

In the case of the BJP, it has always objected to the green flag of the IUML, alleging it looks similar to that of neighbouring Pakistan.

When the previous UDF government introduced green boards replacing blackboards in schools, the Sangh Parivar objected, saying the move was part of the efforts to appease Muslims.

But the government said the move was part of recommendations of educational experts and psychologists that green is more appealing to learners than black.