#India-Stories of survival from Kudankulam, Vilappilsala


STAFF REPORTER, Nov 4, 2012, The Hindu

The Young Women’s Christian Association hall (YWCA) here, on Saturday, rang with passionate voices of solidarity and an undaunted spirit of protest as women involved in agitations against the concrete manifestations of ‘development’ in Kudankulam and Vilappilsala gathered for a day of sharing their ‘Stories of Survival.’

With the tagline ‘Kudankulam muthal Vilappilsala verae,’ the programme was led by the Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA). Focussing on a woman’s perspective, the programme highlighted the travails of those who lived in the troubled zones.

Support sought

Speakers during the session stressed that women, being the most victimised, needed to pledge support for each other, irrespective of the specific cause. As Sugathakumari, poet, said, “The men may be silent, but the lakhs of women in Kerala need to at least speak against the situation at Kudankulam.”

“The Union government, people’s representatives, business and industrial leaders do not seem to understand what a flawed definition of development they are following. Or they pretend not to,” Ms. Sugathakumari said.

She criticised the responses of political representatives and scientists who have said that the nuclear power plant at Kudankulam will function safely.

“Only God can tell when the system will fail. How can we predict natural catastrophes? There is also such a thing as man-made error. How can we completely rule out the possibility of something like this happening?” she said.

Touching upon various projects in the State itself that threatened the existence of paddy fields, she said even if complete self-sufficiency could not be attained, there must be an attempt to produce essential commodities required by our people.

Jameela Prakasam, MLA, who was present, lauded the strength of the women to carry on their protests. Organisers said that more such meetings, involving various women’s rights and environmental organisations, would be held.

Poster exhibition

A poster exhibition was held as part of the function, along with the screening of a recently released documentary ‘Daughters of the Sea – Voices from Kudankulam.’

The session began with a demonstration led by six women who came from Kudankulam and five, including Vilapilsala panchayat president, Shobana Kumari, from Vilappilsala. Nearly 150 women participated in the march from the YWCA till the Secretariat.

Keywords: YWCAKudankulamVilappilsala

 

Kerala: Woman devotee? Sorry, no entry


 Ibnlive, Thiruvananthapuram: In Jammu‘s Sree Krishna temple, all rituals, including offering of daily prayers, are performed by women priests. The temple, also known as ‘Baion ka Mandir,’ is maintained by the distaff side which is proud to spread the message of women empowerment through religion.

Unfortunately, Malayinkeezhu is no Jammu. The Sree Krishna Temple here bars entry to women devotees! For centuries, women have not been allowed into the nalambalam, the core structure of the temple, which shares its antiquity with Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple.

It is believed that the ban was enforced during the reign of the erstwhile Travancore ruler Sree Moolam Thirunal. “The two Pushpanjali Swamiyars of Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple had to spend six months at the Malayinkeezhu temple. The custom to bar women’s entry probably began then as they were celibates,” says Malayinkeezhu Venugopal, district panchayat member and former president of the temple committee.

Kerala: Woman devotee? Sorry, no entry

“The Swamiyars do not reside here any more. So it is a folly to continue with the ban. It is unfortunate that women are not allowed in the temple even decades after the Temple Entry Proclamation was passed,” he says.

The cause has found its supporters in poet-priest Vishnu Narayanan Namboodiri and poet Sugathakumari. The duo, while attending an award function held as part of the temple festival, had demanded that women be allowed into the temple. Sugathakumari even refused to pray in front of the nalambalam and, instead, prayed in front of the flag mast.

“This is unjustified. We believe Lord Krishna will not have any opposition to women entering his temple,” says author Radhika C Nair. But not all women back a change. “There is no need for a change. This is not an issue of women’s rights, but of faith,” Saraswathiyamma, 60, says.

“We will hold a meeting of devotees on the issue. If the majority supports women’s entry, we will take a decision after consulting the temple thantri,” TDB president Rajagopalan Nair says.

“Much has to be done even before thinking of changing a centuries-old custom. Changing the custom would result in the temple losing its identity.

“If there is a popular demand, a vidwatsadas comprising eminent devotees, TDB officials, priests and members of the Travancore royal family should discuss the issue,” says temple thantri Thekkedath Kuzhikkattu Parameswaran Vasudevan Bhattathiripad.