Civil activists demand removal of Sabarimala priests, return temple to Adivasis

Written by Sabrangindia | Published on: January 10, 2019

Around 244 signatories said in the letter that the purification ceremony conducted after two women of menstruating ages entered the temple was akin to practising untouchability, something against the SC ruling and also Article 17 of the Constitution.


Sabarimala
 
In a letter to the Chief Minister of Kerala, the President of India, Chief Justice of India and the Governor of Kerala, over 200 women’s activists, Dalit activists, Adivasi activists, human rights groups, social organisations, cultural personalities and well-known citizens demanded the dismissal of priests in Sabarimala over violation of constitutional rights and returning the shrine to Adivasis.
 
Around 244 signatories said in the letter that the purification ceremony conducted after two women of menstruating ages entered the temple was akin to practising untouchability, something against the SC ruling and also Article 17 of the Constitution.
 
They demanded that the Tanthris and Melshanti (high priests) of the temple be stripped of their positions at the temple. “Since this purification ceremony happened according to the values of Brahmanical patriarchy, we also demand that the Brahmin Tanthris should be debarred from their hereditary rights over Sabarimala temple and the worship rights at Sabarimala be given back to Adivasis who were the customary custodians of Sabarimala until the Brahmins took control of the temple in the early 20th Century. We also demand that the Tanthri status should be abolished and the Melshanthi should be reinstated to the Adivasis,” they said.
 
Full text of the letter:
 
Adv. Bindu and Kanakadurga made history on January 2, 2019, by entering the Sabarimala temple, a right accorded to them, by the historic Supreme Court verdict given on 28 September 2018. This day will also go down as a dark day in the history of India when the Tanthris and Melshanthi (head priests) of the Sabarimala temple conducted a ‘purifying puja’.
 
In the historic judgment, Justice D.Y Chandrachud observed that the practice to ban entry to women between the ages of ten and fifty at the Ayyappa temple at Sabarimala is “a form of untouchability.” He observed “Religion cannot be cover to deny women the right to worship…To treat women as children of a lesser God is to blink at constitutional morality.” Justice Chandrachud also said that “exclusion of women is a violation of the right to liberty, dignity and equality… Exclusion of women because she menstruates is utterly unconstitutional.”
 
Article 17 of the Constitution of India says that “Untouchability is abolished and its practice in any form is forbidden. The enforcement of any disability arising out of Untouchability shall be an offence punishable in accordance with law.” Article 17 of the Constitution of India is the only Absolute right of the Indian constitution. The purification ceremony carried out by the Tanthri in Sabarimala is a clearly criminal act as it stands in violation of Article 17, which confers an absolute right to all Indian citizens against the practice of untouchability, without exceptions or relaxations. No Indian citizen as per the Indian Constitution can be declared impure' or untouchable.’ It is clear that the purification ceremony performed at Sabarimala is unconstitutional and violates the Supreme Court judgment. Therefore, we demand that the Tanthris and Melashanthi of Sabarimala should be dismissed from their position and must be prosecuted as their action is against constitutional morality.
 
Since this purification ceremony happened according to the values of Brahmanical patriarchy, we also demand that the Brahmin Tanthris should be debarred from their hereditary rights over Sabarimala temple and the worship rights at Sabarimala be given back to Adivasis who were the customary custodians of Sabarimala until the Brahmins took control of the temple in the early 20th Century. We also demand that the Tanthri status should be abolished and the Melshanthi should be reinstated to the Adivasis.
 
We appeal to make necessary steps to enforce community rights, resource rights and facilitate environmental protection of the forests around Sabarimala as well as Pampa river as per the Forest Rights Act.
 
Signatories:
1.     Swami Agnivesh, Swami Agnivesh ,AryaSamaj Leader , Chairperson, Bonded labour Liberation Front .
2.     Medha Patkar, NBA, NAPM
3.     Kancha Ilaiah, Writer, Academic, Dalit Activist
4.     TeestaSetalvad, Writer, Human Rights Activist
5.     Aruna Roy, MKSS
6.     Anand Patwardhan, Film Maker
7.     Ram Puniyani. Writer, Retd. Professor, IIT
8.     Satchidanandan, Writer, Poet, Former Secretary of Sahitya Akademi
9.     Sandeep Pandey, Former Visiting Professor, IIT, Social Activist
10.  Harsh Mander
11.  S. Parasuraman, Former Director, TISS
12.  Tirumurugan Gandhi, May 17 Movement, Tamil Nadu
13.  Lubnasarwath, General Secretary, Socialist Party( India), Telangana, Hyderabad
14.  Guru Moorthy,  Socialist Party(India)- Bangalore
15.  Radhika, independent legal researcher
16.  Henri ,Executive Director, People’s Watch
17.  Manohar, Human Rights Defenders Alert India
18.  Denzil Fernandes, Indian Social Institute, New Delhi
19.  Abdul Mabood, Director, SNEHI -Healthy Minds. A Healthy India, New Delhi
20.  Apoorvanand, Delhi University
21.  Nivedita Menon, JNU
22.  Shabnam Hashmi, Social Activist, New Delhi
23.  Jolly Chirayath, Actress, Activist
24.  ArchanaPadmini- curator, actress
25.  Vidhu Vincent -filmmaker
26.  Sruthi Namboothiri- filmmaker
27.  Muktha Deedi Chand-filmmaker
28.  Sajitha Madathil-actress
29.  Deedi Damodaran-script writer,filmmaker
30.  Jeevakj- filmmaker
31.  Asha Achy Joseph- filmmaker
32.  Shiny T Rajan- actress
33.  Miriam –
34.  Sudha KF-filmmaker
35.  Radhika Padmakumar- cameraperson
36.  Revathy Sampath- actress
37.  KaniKusruti-actress
38.  Divya Gopinath-actress
39.  Kavita Srivastava, PUCL
40.  VidyaDinker, INSAF, Karnataka
41.  Brinda Adige, Activist
42.  Kritika A, Activist, Mediaperson
43.  Mercy Kappen, Director, Visthar
44.  Kamayanibalimahabal, feminist and human rights activist
45.  Gerda Unnithan
46.  Elizabeth Philip, Women’s Activist.
47.  Tara Murali, Chennai.
48.  Nafisa D’Souza
49.  Indira Pancholi, MahilaJandhikarSamiti
50.  Karuna Philip, MahilaJandhikarSamiti
51.  Bhanwari Bai, MahilaJandhikarSamiti
52.  Sister Carol Geeta, SaswikaSanghathan, Ajmer
53.  Anuradha Marwah, Ajmer Adult Education Association
54.  Lata Kanchawaha, SURE
55.  Tara Ahluwalia, MahilaEvamBalChetnaSamiti
56.  Nisha Chauhan
57.  Chaya Pachauli
58.  Madhulika, PUCL
59.  Maya Pandit
60.  Indu Prakash Singh
61.  Ganga Gupta
62.  Kalpana Kannabiran, Professor & Director, Council for Social Development, Hyderabad
63.  Mridula Bajaj, Development Consultant
64.  Anila George, Advocate, Ernakulam
65.  V.S. Roy David-National Adivasi Alliance (NAA) Convener
66.  J.P.Raju- President BudakattuKrishikaraSanghaKodagu District
67.  K.N.Vittala President BudakattuKrishkaraSanghaChickmagalore District
68.  Venkataswamy President BudakattuKrishikaraSanghaPeriyapatna Mysore.
69.  National AdivasiAndolana(NAA)
70.  Rajya Moola Adivasi Vedike
71.  Budakattu Krishikara Sangha Kodagu
72.  Budakattu Krishikara Sangha Mysore,
73.  Budakkatu Krishikara Sangha Periyapatna Taluk Mysore
74.  Budakattu Krishikara Sangha Chickmagalore
75.  Rajya Soliga Abhivruddi Sangha
76.  Hassan Jilla Adivasi Hasalara Sangha
77.  Iruliga Kshemabhivruddi Sangha(IAKS)
78.  Betta kurubara Paramparika Sangha.
79.  Adivasi Yuvajana Vikasana Samithi (AYVS),Wayanad
80.  Asangatitha Vanitha Thozhilali Union (AVTU)Wayanad
81.  Forum of Deserted Wives-STHREEJWALA,Wayanad
82.  BODI AND AGAMALAI ADIVASI PALIYAR FEDERATION (BAAPF)
83.  Renganathan State convenor Tribal associations for Fifth Schedule campaign TN
84.  Gunasekaran General Secretary TamilagaadivasiammippugalinKuttammaippu TN
85.  Thangaraj State honorary president ST peoples munetranalasangam Kollihills.
86.  Venkadesan State President TN palangudivivasayegalsangamJawdhu hills
87.  Shivashanthakumar Humane Trust Kodaikanal Tamil Nadu
88.  Shiva Shankar, Chennai Mathematical Institute.
89.  Mohan and S.Devika, Advocates, Chennai
90.  Andrew Sesuraj. M, Dept of Social Work, Loyola College,Chennai
91.  Ravi Nitesh, Engineer, Social Activist, Member- Civicus International
92.  Prabhir Vishnu Poruthiyil. Indian Institute of Management, Trichy.
93.  Sandeep Pattnaik, Researcher
94.  Lalit Vachani, Film Maker
95.  Harish Chandra IAS, Bharat Jan Gyan Vigyan Samiti
96.  Jai Sen, Researcher, Editor, New Delhi
97.  Bharti Ali, HAQ: Centre for Child Rights.
98.  Kumar Shailabh, HAQ: Centre for Child Rights.
99.  Enakshi Ganguly, Founder, Adviser, HAQ Centre for Child Rights, New Delhi 
and more