Cornered after news reports that Muslims would not be allowed to install stalls at the annual fair at Marigudi Temple in Kaup, Udupi, Karnataka, the temple management Shree Kote Marikamba Seva Samiti “clarified” its stand saying, “The decision to allot stalls is left to the person who has won the tender and the committee does not interfere with the process”
According to a report in The New Indian Express, the temple committee has claimed that “no community is kept out of the celebrations”. Its president S K Mariyappa told the media on Sunday that “people should not lend their ears to rumours that a particular community is being kept out of the celebrations.”
Mariyappa also claimed that Muslims “are taking part in different activities related to the fair” and that “Muslims bring rice and other essential products for the jatra. Hence, there is no need for unnecessary confusion.” His claims come close on the heels of news reports that Muslims were not allowed to set up stalls at the temple fair. Mariyappa has now clarified, “The tender has been won by one Nagaraj, who will take a call on whom to allot stalls. The jatra committee will not interfere in the decision of the tender-holder. But, we have put a condition that no stalls should be erected around the temple.”
The fair is being held after a gap of two years since Covid restrictions were put in place on such gatherings, and according to Mariyappa, people of all religions would have stalls in the past and that “the Marikamba jatra welcomes people of all faiths, and hence, one should ignore such rumours. Everyone must cooperate in the peaceful conduct of the fair.” However, he has now claimed according to TNIE that someone else had won the tender earlier, but he gave it up after allegedly “receiving some threat calls.” However he did not explain what these calls were or who made them. After this one Nagaraj, won the tender. Mariyappa told the media that the committee had “learnt a lesson from what happened around the tender issue. We will rectify the same for the fairs in future.”
What are temple authorities clarifying now?
The committee presidents reactions and ‘clarificaion’ comes soon afte news that The Marigudi Temple in Kaup, Udupi, Karnataka had decided not to allow Muslim traders to set up shops at its annual fair.
As SabrangIndia reported on Sunday, this is in clear violation of the Indian constitutional maxim of equality for all (Article 14) and non-discrimination to none (Article 15) and under pressure from Hindutva groups, the organisers of an historic festival in Karnataka have banned Muslim shopkeepers from conducting business during it. According to a report in The Hindu, the temple administration committee president Ramesh Hegde, had said a resolution was passed allowing “only Hindus to participate in the auction of shops.” This disctrimination fuelled economic boycott against Muslims it seems was the temples way of ‘punishing’ the community as some Muslim traders shut down their shops on March 17 in the city, to protest the Karnataka High Court’s decision on the hijab issue. Following this the managing committee of Hosa Marigudi Temple in Kaup, Udupi district “decided not to allow Muslims to bid for the auction to allocate shops for the annual ‘Suggi Mari Pooje’ (annual fair)”. The auction was held on March 18, and the ‘Suggi Mari Pooje’ will be held in the temple on March 22 and March 23.
According to news reports, the temple’s administration committee “also added that the individuals who participate in the auction have been informed not to sub-contract their shops to any Muslim traders to avoid law and order issues.” Hegde told mediapersons, “Hindu organisations had appealed to the temple committee not to allot the stalls/shops to Muslims as they did not respect the court’s verdict and the law of the land in the Hijab issue.” He claimed that “as over a lakh people would visit the festival on two days, there should not be any law and order problem. So a consensus decision was taken.’’
Had Hindu Jagarana Vedike sent a warning?
It was reported that Prakash Kukkehalli, Mangaluru divisional general secretary, Hindu Jagarana Vedike (HJV), had claimed that it was this group that had written “to the chief officer of Kaup Town Municipality not to permit Muslims to open their shops/stalls during the annual fair” and they also told the temple management committee to allow only Hindus to participate in the auction process. He claimed to speak on behalf of local devotees saying they “were also upset that Muslims had closed down their shops on March 17 supporting the Karnataka bandh. The decision taken by the temple on Friday had the approval of all stakeholders.” Kukkehalli told the media that “the temple authorities were told that if it allowed Muslims to participate in the auction, it might lead to law and order issues during the festival.”
According to news reports, it was only this temple that had auctioned shops for its fair and the other two Marigudi Temples in Kaup – Hale temple (old) and Moorane temple (third one) which also participate in this annual fair do not auction any shops/stalls. The Hosa Marigudi auctioned about 100 shops. The three temples have separate management committees, stated the news report.
India is a secular country: Chief Officer of Kaup Town Municipality
Meanwhile the Chief Officer of Kaup Town Municipality Venkatesh Navada told the media that “they are examining the issue,” but added that “as India is a secular country, traders from all communities can open the shops.”