Sabarimal Temple is about Choice

sabarimala

It is unworthy to dive and wade through a controversy which is already ravaging religious and political divide. Despite, it is never too late to share a perspective.

Since medieval times until recently, guardians of religion, especially those influencing the religious pulpit and dictating at the sanctum sanctorum, have treated women with lesser regards, often times humiliatingly. Though male chauvinism has perpetuated over the years, often I feel, women too contribute to their malady. I was talking with an IIT graduated with strong liberal views and I was surprised to hear her recantation of the age old dogmas. This IIT alumnus is not an isolated example, and not all highly educated women submit to the old dogmas. However, submission to these dogmas makes me think that women too contribute to this state.

However, times have changed and Women have become more aware of their rights. They have realized that it is time to stop this second class maltreatment. Women entering Shani Shingnapur’s inner sanctum after 400-year, broke the tradition. I am a strong proponent of equality between gender and women rights. I believe, though late, the global #Me Too, Women taking the wheels in Saudi Arabia are all signs of that awareness and assertiveness.

However, the story at Sabarimal Temple is different. It is in fact a desecration of the choice of Lord Ayappa. Lord Ayappa had chosen celibacy as his way of life and he wanted to stay away from the carnal world. Even if we are not to believe in his existence, it is about a choice and Sabarimal Temple represents that choice. Are we not to respect that, especially when we respect and accept prochoice (for abortions), or gender identity and preference (Guys and Lesbian)?

Sabarimal Temple represents a different ideology and we have to respect the views of that deity if we consider this as live and valid, if we consider it as a folklore, the reason to pay respect itself annuls.

It is interesting to read Suhrith Parthsarthy’s article on Sabarimala Singularity (Link provided in reference) as the authors wades through multiple facets of faith, equality and choice.

Also, criticism from other religious groups are most welcome, however, they should also abide and be receptive to receive reciprocal outsider perspective. This last statement is in reference to a IUML rally in support of the court verdict (reference below).

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References:

Sabarimala: India’s Kerala paralysed amid protests over temple entry

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-india-46744142

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/shani-shingnapur-temple-trust-finally-accepts-hc-order-lets-women-in/

https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/the-sabarimala-singularity/article24514458.ece

https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/sabarimala-temple-row-not-only-hindu-outfits-iuml-too-supports-devotees/videoshow/66150798.cms?from=mdr

Sliping times, Shifting sand…

As Kamel Daoud said in Ney York Times, ‘The country produces, sponsors, shelters and feeds the Islamism that threatens its foundations and its future’. That shift away from radical religious ideology towards a more moderate Islam will have deep influence and impact on the current times of religious acrimony and bitterness unleashed by radical Islam.

While the Prince is doing the right thing, we want him to succeed. After all, the region has significant history of revolting and falling back to radical conservatism. That change is not just required for Saudi Arabia, that change is required for changing the mindset within the hotbed of radicalism. That change is the need of time and a change that will influence the harmonious existence between Islam and other faith.

… and the sand should not shift underneath our foot.

I woke up to the news on BBC that Black panther can be watched across select theatres in Saudi Arabia. That’s not an isolated reform; it is part of plethora of reforms, the scale of which is unprecedented as compared to the regions similar changes during the Shah of Iran.

This scale and its pace of reforms concern me. Not that those are not required. However, the concern is on an emerging pattern just like Iran, when the Shah was overthrown by the radicals in 1979. That’s where my fear and apprehension lies.

The conservatives or hardliners are so deeply anchored in old obsolete idea of Wahhabism that these changes are too radical for them to absorb. Saudi Arabia is radically drifting away from the alliance between clerics, Muhammad ibn Abd-al-Wahhab, and his rigid conservative doctrines.

The gender equality unleashed by Prince Mohammed bin Salman (Prince MBS), an example of which is the city of Madinah, which will be run by women. Women have got the right to drive, vote, institutional protection by the state and corruption amongst the ruling royal elite has been stemmed, removing guardianship laws that empowers women and makes them less dependent on the men, establishing an Islamic center that validates the sayings of the prophet Muhammed, Israel is no longer considered a pariah state, Saudi is building its own arms and relying less on conventional friend US. Reducing budget deficit, isolating Qatar and stemming support for radicals, openly defying Iran, and harboring an ambition to make a nuclear arsenal to counter Shia Iran, are just few revolutionary theme. The list goes long and I am concerned, the reverberations of these run even deeper.

All these reforms were long awaited for a Kingdom to rise to the aspirations of the next generation and waning oil dependency by the world and consequent reduction of oil revenues. As Kamel Daoud said in New York Times, ‘The country produces, sponsors, shelters and feeds the Islamism that threatens its foundations and its future’.

I wonder if the masses are prepared to take this even if we presume the country is getting ready for Vision 2030. I always think, and it applies to Saudi too, that we need to work with people and then plan to deploy and implement a change. A shift in ideology is always radical change to adopt. If that chasm widen, it generates revolt. That’s the concern with Saudi. We don’t want such nice and welcome changes to turn sour. We don’t want Saudi Arabia to be another Iran. The region has enough history towards backward conservatism.

We forget, social engineering comes before economic and technology transformation. We mostly see the reverse. Our collective conscious and framework of living in consonance and within the realms of nature and our own evolution, creates a milieu composed of culture and artifacts that are deeply embedded within our ethos. Technology, as an isolated phenomenon, is too narrow in its ambit to influence these deep seated influences. However, when a swath of such technology (and related) changes engulf humanity, we are challenged and, collectively as a civilization, we fall back or default to old value system. That’s why, social engineering becomes paramount with such speed of change coming-not alone from technology but from all sides.

Saudi cinema screens reopen on 18 April ‘with Black Panther’

Jewish people have a right to their ‘own land,’ Saudi crown prince says as he seeks ally against Iran

‘This is a revolution’: Saudis absorb crown prince’s rush to reform

I will return Saudi Arabia to moderate Islam, says crown prince

Shifting sands: What is changing in Saudi Arabia?

Transforming Saudi Arabia: Gender equality, economic reforms consolidate Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s authority

If Saudi Arabia Reforms, What Happens to Islamists Elsewhere? (New York Times, Kamel Daoud, Nov 16, 2017)

The Perils of Reform in Saudi Arabia