Tuesday, November 14, 2006

ENTE GURUVAYOORAPPA, NEE ITHONNUM KAANUNNILLAE

All our trips to Kerala invariably end up in temple-hopping. This time, there was an addition on the list – Guruvayoor. Guruvayoor has been taken up as a special case since we were not allowed inside the temple because women in anything other than saree or skirt cannot enter the temple – the temple management’s contribution to women’s well-being. Oh of course, they are not so bad after all, they have one mind-boggling option. If you are wearing anything other than the above mentioned clothing, like for example say, salwar-kameez, but still want to enter the temple, you can strip off the salwar, yes, inside the premises(!), or even roll it up, pick up a dirty yellow 1 metre fabric for hire, wrap it around you and be instantly permitted inside! Bhakti and decency revolves around the 1 metre long dirty cloth? I was in salwar-kameez last time and was obviously denied permission to enter as such, but the option of the hiring the yellow cloth was open. I refused. I don’t care whether I enter the temple or not, but there’s no way I will disgrace myself wearing some really dirty cloth.

But this time my parents were absolutely sure they will have none of last time’s tamasha and made me shop for skirts which I can wear on this trip. Needless to say, this time, I found myself waiting in the long queue to reach the sannidhi. I have a couple of useless hours on hand so I decide to do what the rest of the crowd is doing best – “Watch The Neighbours”. I do a little extra and study the architecture. It is definitely impressive and definitely beyond my knowledge. I watch kids playing, I watch people buying prasadam, I watch women in something that looks like the-in-thing-at-the-moment – kameez and lengthy petticoats (excuse me, but I thought petticoats were reserved for the saree and was more an undergarment than anything else). So petticoats are acceptable, so are dirty yellow pieces of cloth, not salwar-kameez. Very impressive. Wow!

I let my eyes wander again. Architecture. Pillars. Kodimaram. Kids. Women in petticoats. Stone finished floor. More pillars. And what’s this? The fully exposed thighs of a male member of the Devaswom Committee, chatting away with two others of his clan! Guruvayoorappa! What is this guy doing lifting up his mundu to unmentionable heights in front of such a huge gathering of people, including women? He chats on, looking happy at his achievement. The women look away.

Ente Guruvayoorappa, nee ithonnum kaanunnillae?

Do male Devaswom members have exclusive rights to indecent display of skin inside the temple? I wasn’t aware of this new law. I prepare to get out of the queue in which I have been standing for over 2 hours now. I definitely want to have a word with this man. I turn around to look into the eyes of the man standing behind me. What is that in his eyes? Fear? Shame? Disgust? Disappointment? Just then, my sister who has been standing beside me all this while decides to faint. I half-walk and half-drag her through the throng of people to some fresh air and by the time she is in a better shape to get back to the queue, our Mr. Display and Co. have disappeared.

The queue moves forward. Someone is chanting. Someone else gets emotionally charged on seeing the Lord’s idol and starts crying.

What in the name of God are we all preaching and practising, I wonder. I walk on.

4 comments:

Radha said...

most of the temple in india having these type of regulations. There should be some reasons though.. How ever that is very nice temple to see

Arun B.Nair said...

Hmmm.. Interesting entry! The respect for ur thoughts and ideas aside, I could go on justifying the women's dress code rule right from the ancient Aryan-Dravidan divide and their clothing culture conflict to the quite a few social changes in the last century which might have led to such rules to be set. Nah! But I prefer to ask just a couple of questions.

1) We never give a second thought about the dress and shoe code set by leading pubs and discs in the city (n I hate the "we hate stags" concept too) but have we ever challenged or criticized them? If we can very well accept a dress code in place over here (without even reasoning out y) Y cant we do the same for an age old tradition that is being followed from even before our birth??

2) I have waited at G'vayoor over 5 hrs for Darshan and once at Sabarimala for over 11 hrs (All this when I have the contacts to walk in directly). Visiting a temple is a thing I rarely do, and when I get there, I feel it is justifiable to spare a couple of hours to the Gods (not in the literal sense, but i mean spirituality). When we achieve sumthing easily I guess, its just not worth it especially with sumthing that we don’t usually do. I have been in ur situation too and have used it to socialize and even reflect upon myself. Befriend a cute n bubbly kid or hear mythological stories from a granny in front of me. I guess these add up to our experience. We don’t mind waiting for an entire day patiently to get to an interview board (Yeah! After all it is for my future, my career man!!), or even some of us guys (Including me) waiting for hours for our every busy girlfriend to arrive for a lunch or movie? (Ahem! Well there is always time till dinner and the ‘next show’) ha ha. Its not like Lord Krishna is sitting up there and checking on us if we have waited in queue for hours or just walked in thru the back door. But still, don’t u think we ought to be honest to ourselves atleast in spiritual matters?

I have mentioned these two points not to put you down or drag you into a debate, but then when there is a conflicting thought, its better to make the other side clear too, even if its with a stranger ;-)

You have excellent way with words. It is a gift u shld be proud of! This is one of the best laid out blogs I have come across in terms of language usage and presentation. I really admire your "Cat Walk" story. Amazing script! Really tickled my ‘suspense nerve’!! he he he .. U shld be writing thrillers for Ramsay Brothers gal!! Great work!!!! Heyie one more suggestion, try sumthing more challenging next time.. Its easy to pen out a criticizing story or pin point a -ve side of sumthing.. Am waiting to read sum really positive stories from you soon. You are capable of doing that, and I guess im not wrong in expecting it too!! Keep Smiling.. U and ur team Rock!

Ranjit Mohan said...

I do accept your views on this but then tradition (your post on the wedding card mentions of yourself as one) is something which every state in our country has and follows. Temples in one the places in Kerala where this tradition is followed to the hilt apart from weddings. Hope you remember how I came for your wedding. Certain things, in terms of traditional aspects, is here to stay or atleast I hope they do

RAJANI NAIR said...

@Ranjit: (1) The point is, tradition is okay. It's NOT okay to place yourself on unaesthetic display like what that hero here did. (2) It was also tradition in temples in olden Kerala to let women enter the temples ONLY if their upper body was unclothed (just like what the men are currently expected to do). That has been changed since (as the supreme court rightly pointed out in its ruling against the skirt brigade). So what part of tradition is it that you wish to stick to? (3) Tradition is what we made. If something can be created, it can be altered / improved / deleted altogether as well. This has only been proven time and again.