Tamil Nadu: How The DMK Government Seeks To Break An 89-Year-Old Tradition Of This Devi Temple

Aravindan Neelakandan

Feb 14, 2023, 02:15 AM | Updated 02:14 AM IST

The Mandaikadu-Bhagwathi Amman temple, Kanyakumari.
(Representative image).
The Mandaikadu-Bhagwathi Amman temple, Kanyakumari. (Representative image).
  • The Tamil Nadu HRCE is now trying to ban the religious conference that Haindava Seva Sangham, from 89 years, traditionally organises in Mandaikadu.
  • Kanyakumari district has always been a communally volatile region in Tamil Nadu. Here, Hindus have been offering strong resistance against the communal aggression unleashed on them, by the more institutionalised and better-supported evangelist forces.

    Before independence, the proselytising forces enjoyed covert, overt and tactical patronage of the colonial administration. Yet, thanks to the works of seers like Sri Narayana Guru in Kerala and Iyya Vaikundar in Kanyakumari district, a Hindu awakening started building up.

    The Haindava Seva Sangham (HSS) was the direct manifestation of this spirit. Cutting across caste lines, Hindus from all communities joined hands and this organisation not only unified Hindus against conversion, but also took great efforts to spread the wisdom of Hindu Dharma to all.

    Christian missionaries often chose important festivals of Hindus, like their temple festivals, for their proselytising campaigns.

    They would put a platform and demean the Gods and Goddesses right where Hindus had gathered to worship. Often the Hindus, not united organisationally, would not react or would react feebly and only in individual capacities.

    It was at this juncture that the HSS started organising religious conferences in conjunction with temple festivals. Learned Dharmic Hindus, passionate about protecting Dharma, were brought in and they would give lectures and sensitise Hindus.

    The missionaries too increased their aggression. The practice of temporary platforms abusing Hindu dieties solidified into strategically placing crosses near Hindu shrines and putting loudspeakers and then, even creating Christian shrines at these places.

    This was very much the case in the coastal Mandaikadu-Bhagwathi Amman temple. This shrine was called the 'Sabarimala of women', with women coming here with famous 'Irumudi-kattu'.

    During the festival of this shrine, the Church had put speakers towards the temple and purposefully intimidated Hindus. HSS, in a peaceful and legal way, challenged this.

    Some fanatical Christians, under instigation by the Padre, blocked the way to the ceremonial bath by Hindu women, and worse, molested them. This resulted in police firing at the Christian mob.

    This led to widespread riots and finally the Venugopal Commission recommended anti-conversion law.

    Now, the Church has changed its tactics. It wants to accomplish its agenda in two ways. One of these involve spreading baseless stories which degrade Hindu Gods and Goddesses.

    For example, a new story was fabricated (perhaps with inputs from Folklore study Departments of Catholic controlled autonomous universities around) that the Goddess in the famous Mandaikadu temple (called the Sabarimala of Women) and the nearby and newly created Mary of a church, were sisters.

    Thus, the Mandaikadu Bhagawathi Devi, the embodiment of the Universal Divine Feminine, is equated with Mary, an intermediary between the male god through his male god-son.

    Secondly, they want Hindus to lose their knowledge of authentic Hinduism.

    Already, the Hindu Religious and Charity Endowment (HRCE) Board has been making those with antipathy towards Hinduism the mandatory speakers in Hindu festivals.

    For example, Suki Sivam, a pop-religious orator who propagates Aryan-Dravidian racial notions and who supports the anti-Agamic transgressions of the present DMK government, is part of the official consulting team for HRCE.

    Whilst promoting such Hindus, the HRCE is also trying to ban the religious conference that Haindava Seva Sangham traditionally organises in Mandaikadu.

    For 89 years, the Haindava Seva Sangham has been conducting Dharmic religious conferences at Mandaikadu.

    Last year, Governor of Telangana, Dr Tamilisai Soundararajan, inaugurated the conference of Haindava Seva Sangham.

    In quite a special way, unique to the district of Kanyakumari, various children from Hindu Samaya Vakkupu perform many religious arts and dramas related to Hindu history of valour and devotion.

    This year, in a perverse move, HRCE has issued an edict that 'private' religious conferences would not be allowed, which essentially means banning the Haindava Seva Sangham religious conference.

    This is nothing but heights of mischief and collusion with Christian missionaries' agenda.

    Hindus in the district are naturally agitated. They are looking up looking to the politically aware Hindus in high places of state power to come and thwart this step of the DMK government.

    The stakes are high. In this battle, it is essential that the continuing tradition of 85 years of service of the Haindava Seva Sangham, is not broken.

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