Kerala minister urges temple authorities to find ways to allow Mansiya to perform
Devaswom Minister of Kerala K Radhakrishnan on Friday requested Koodalmanikayam Temple authorities to find a way to allow famous representative of Bharatanatyam, Mansiya VP to perform in a 10-day festival at their premises, said reported India Today. The development came after three dancers pulled out of the event as Mansiya was banned from performing because she is not a Hindu performer.
Around 800 artists are expected to perform at the festival, which will be held from April 15-25. They were all only allowed if they identify as Hindus.
Born a Muslim, Mansiya identifies as an atheist. Citing existing traditions, the temple, which falls under the governing council of Devaswom, banned him from performing at the festival on April 21 despite planning the event well in advance, Mansiya had written in a Facebook post.
On Friday, Radhakrishnan urged temple authorities to consult thantris or Vedic leaders to resolve the issue.
“The general feeling is that Mansiya should be allowed to perform on the temple stage,” he added, according to Onmanorama. “Even Hindu organizations and BJP leaders rallied behind her. It is the opposition of the ‘thantris’ [of the temple] which prevented the Devaswom from providing a stage for Mansiya.
The minister called “deeply disturbing” the decision by the Koodalmanikyam Temple administration not to let the dancer perform because of her religion.
“It’s mostly Hindu drummers who play at Christian and Muslim festivals,” Radhakrishnan said. Onmanorama. “What if these religions insist that only members of their community are allowed to perform on the church and mosque stages?”
The minister said he would not communicate directly with the Vedic leaders to avoid confrontation. “I urged the Devaswom authorities to communicate to the ‘thantris’ that art should have no religion,” Radhakrishnan said.
Sasikala Teacher, state chairman of the Hindu Aikya Vedi or Hindu United Front, also echoed the minister’s comments that art has no religion.
“If the Devaswom was so passionate about temple traditions, it was her responsibility to check her biographical data carefully,” she said. “But denying him a stage after failing in his duty is unfair.”
On Thursday, three dancers – Devika Sajeevan, Anju Aravind and Karthik Manikandan – boycotted the event to express solidarity with Mansiya.
“As an artist, with the full realization that art has no caste or religion, I cannot dance on this stage writing ‘Hindu’ on my art,” Aravind posted on Facebook.
Mansiya is a PhD researcher at Bharatanatyam in Kerala Kalamandalam. On March 27, she wrote on Facebook that the head of the temple had asked her if she had converted to Hinduism after her marriage to violinist and artist Shyam Kalyan.
“I have no religion, where should I go? she asked.
She added that she was not disturbed by this experience because it is not the first time that it has happened to her. The Guravayoor Temple in the state had also once refused to host her performance, she alleged.
She wrote that she was documenting her exclusion from the Koodalmanikyam temple event on Facebook as a reminder that nothing has changed in secular Kerala.
“Art and artists continue to be tied to religion and caste,” Mansiya said. “What is forbidden in one religion is a monopoly in another.”
Another dancer refused permission
On March 30, another performer named Soumya Sukumaran said she was denied permission to perform at the festival because she was unable to produce a Hindu caste certificate. Sukumaran is a Christian.
Koodalmanikyam temple council chairman Pradeep Menon said that according to the Devaswom council law, “non-Hindus” cannot enter the temple. These rules, he added, apply to 90% of the temples in Kerala.
He said the temple follows the same policy and a decision on the matter should be taken by the government.