इंडियन आवाज़     05 Dec 2023 05:53:29      انڈین آواز

Religious Tragedy and Rule of Law

By A.J. Philip

While my heart-felt condolences are to the kith and kin of those killed in the fire tragedy in Kerala, I will blame the whole Kerala society for what has happened.

Kerala: 100 devotees charred to death in Kollam temple fire

Those who have suffered burn injuries know how painful they are. Over 400 people are suffering from burn and other injuries. They all deserve our sympathy and support.

Ultimately, it is their wives, mothers, sisters and other close relatives who will have to look after them. The doctors whom Modiji brought from Delhi will return in a few days.

In India it is in the name of tradition that worst violations of law are allowed.

Recently in Delhi, a great spiritual person organised a jamboree in wanton violation of environment laws. He even defied the court. But that did not prevent Modiji from extending all his government’s support to make his illegal programme a success.

Even a 99-year-old bishop travelled all the way from Kerala to attend the function. I have heard this bishop wax eloquent about environment protection. He forgot all that to lend his name to the Art of Violating the Law.

True, fireworks have been part of the temple tradition in Kerala. Those days the fireworks would happen away from the temple usually in a large, open ground.

Today thousands of people live around the temple. Even if there is an open ground, there are houses and shops all around it.

Earlier, poverty was rampant in Kerala. Now people have surplus money and they are ready to spend it for religious purposes. They won’t spend it to help the poor and needy.

In Kerala all the old religious traditions are being revived. for instance, Pongala was a forgotten tradition.

With each passing year, the number of those offering Pongala has been increasing. Newspapers carry more pictures and news about religious functions than secular ones.

They cause damage to the public road and disrupt traffic. Similarly, the number of people visiting Sabarimala has been increasing causing enormous environmental damage. The quality of water in the Pampa is comparable to the water in the sewer line in delhi. It has become fashionable to go to Sabarimala.

Fireworks are harmful. They cause damage to the environment. Homo sapiens, animals and birds suffer from it. There is no scriptural sanction for fireworks.

What’s worse, even Christians and Muslims imitate Hindus in organising fireworks. I remember an incident when a Christian went to the court against the fireworks organised by his church.

He was ostracised by the Christian community. He had even problem in getting his children married. There is no mention of fireworks in the Bible or the Quran.

In Kollam, the temple authorities did not have the permission to organise the fireworks. The police are helpless as they cannot take action against the authorities who invoke tradition.

In Delhi Modiji asked the Indian Army to build pontoon bridges to facilitate holding of an illegal function.

Widows used to be burnt in the name of tradition. There were social reformers like Rajaraman Mohun Roy and Sri Narayana Guru to fight tradition. Today we have leaders who want to revive all the wretched traditions.

What happened in Kollam would not have happened if the rule of law was allowed to prevail. My humble homage to the victims.

A.J. Philip is a senior journalist..

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