Sabarimala: Lost case of Mala Arayas, the original stakeholders

DECCAN CHRONICLE. | T SUDHEESH
Published Oct 20, 2018, 1:43 am IST
Updated Oct 20, 2018, 1:43 am IST
The RSS-backed attackers are obstructing believers and spreading terror, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had tweeted.
Sabarimala Ayyappa temple
 Sabarimala Ayyappa temple

Alappuzha: The Mala Araya community, which used to practise many rituals at Sabarimala decades ago, has demanded its rights back to perform them again. 

The community had enjoyed privileges of rituals, including Thenab-hishekam (honey bath), rights for Velichappad (oracle) and lighting the Makara Vilakku till 1950 when Travancore Deva-swom Board was formed under Travancore-Cochin Hindu Religious Institutions Act.

 

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had tweeted on Thursday: “Sabarimala has a uniqueness that other temples lack; it allows entry for people of all faiths. Sangh Parivar and RSS have always been intolerant of this fact. They have made many attempts to erase this distinction of Sabarimala. The role they played in eliminating the rituals performed at Sabarimala by Adivasi-Malayarayan community is common knowledge. The present troubles must be seen in this light. The RSS-backed attackers are obstructing believers and spreading terror.”

Reacting to the tweet, Mr K.K. Gangadharan, general secretary of 71-year-old Akhila Travancore Mala Araya Maha Sabha (ATMAMS), said that the community was deliberately kept off the rituals.

Samuel Mateer, a British historian in his book 'Native Life in Travancore’ in 1883, had written about the connection of Mala Araya community with Sabarimala. Mala Araya rituals were rendered redundant after the great arson in the temple. “We believe there was a conspiracy behind the arson to get rid of us,” he said.

Tadayani, an elder in the community, used to be Velichappad at Sabarimala. He had stayed at least four months alone in the temple as part of strict penance to become Velichappad. This post later was abolished from the list of rituals like Thenabhikshekam. The KSEB has taken over the right to light Makara Vilakku, he said. 

A.Sreedhara Menon, (author of 'The History of Kerala' )had testified in favour of these claims in his book. He also said that Sabarimala had close connection with Buddhist ideology. That is why the devotees observe non-violence, vegetarianism and abstinence before visiting the Sastha. Sabarimala pilgrims disregard all caste distinctions during the pilgrimage. The invocation Sharanam Ayyappa is reminiscent of the Buddhist Sharanatraya.

Mr K.S. Sunil, who is working for the welfare of Mala Araya community under Ayyappa Dharma Sena, said that he supported Mr Easwer in the agitation against the SC verdict as he had promised to restore their rituals at Sabarimala.

“We had filed many petitions with the help of MLA P.C. George and Rahul Easwer to TDB, devaswom minister and the chief minister. But nothing happened so far,” said Mr Sunil, who came to Nilakkal to protest against the Supreme Court verdict.    

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