The petition filed by Hindu Aikya Vedi (“Hindu United Front”), a Sangh Parivar organisation, against the building of a memorial shrine for Mahabali, has been rejected by the Kerala High Court.
The Hindu Aikya Vedi (HAV) had moved the court against the building of the Mahabali memorial shrine at the famous Vamana Murti temple at Thrikkakkara in Ernakulam district. The temple is among the few in the country where Vamana, believed to be an incarnation of Hindu god Vishnu, is worshipped. The Sangh Parivar outfit was arguing that since Mahabali is considered a demon while Vamana is considered a god, it is wrong to have a shrine for Mahabali in the Vamana temple complex.
But the HAV received a setback as High Court refused to intervene in the issue. The court also asked the Kochi Devaswom Board to submit an explanation, reported Deshabhimani daily newspaper.
Sangh Parivar leaders have in the past courted controversy by coming out against the celebration of Onam. There are multiple explanations regarding the historical origins of Onam, and various myths - corresponding to various communities - are associated with the festival. The most popular myth is that Onam commemorates the return of the Asura King Mahabali, who was pushed to the netherworld by Vamana, to visit his people.
Last year on the eve of Onam, BJP all India President Amit Shah extended greetings to the people on the occasion of "Vamana Jayanti", triggering widespread outrage among Malayalis. Sangh Parivar ideologues such as HAV leader KP Sasikala have for many years claimed that Onam is the celebration of the victory of Vamana, and not the home-coming of the Asura King Mahabali. Sasikala has repeatedly argued that Onam, which is often considered the national festival for Malayalis, should be renamed as Vamana Jayanti.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had lashed out against Amit Shah's remarks.
"[Onam] is a celebration of a unity beyond any boundaries of religion and caste. Mahabali embodies the spirit of equality espoused by Onam and the myths surrounding it, which has an emotional appeal to Malayalis.", the Chief Minister had said in a Facebook post. "Onam is the imagination that there was a time in the past without lies and malice, filled with goodness and prosperity. Mahabali who is imagined to be the creator of such a time was pushed down to hell by those who were intolerant towards such an egalitarian society. Insulting the idea of Mahabali is an insult to all Malayalis who dream of the dawn of such an egalitarian age."
"The myths of Mahabali and Onam are sources of inspiration for all progressive beings striving to create an egalitarian world devoid of malice", he added.
Manu MR, Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University College, Thiruvananthapuram, told Newsclick that the Hindutva forces’ hatred towards Onam is symptomatic of their intolerance towards alternative streams of thought in Hinduism. “The Sangh Parivar’s attempt is to create a monolithic Hinduism. As part of this agenda, the Sangh has been trying to crush every narrative other than their own Brahminical narrative”, he said.
BJP Kerala State President Kummanam Rajasekharan was the state leader of HAV before he rose to the state leadership of BJP.
The Sangh Parivar campaign against Onam has run into yet another roadblock with the High Court decision.