Dance row: Devaswom holds conciliatory talks with stakeholders

Mansiya VP

Thrissur: Amid a raging controversy over the denial of permission to non-Hindu artistes to perform in Kerala's famous Koodalmanikyam temple, a Devaswom official on Wednesday said conciliatory talks are on with all stakeholders including priests to address the issue and expressed hope that a positive outcome will be evolved in the near future.

Devaswom Chairman U Pradeep Menon hailed Bharatanatyam dancer Mansiya V P who raised the banner of protest after she was denied permission to perform in the temple on religious grounds, saying positive changes can be brought through such actions.

He, however, made it clear that a sudden change cannot be expected as it was a "sensitive matter" related to an age-old custom and tradition.

"This is not an issue of one Mansiya. This is a policy issue--an issue of age-old custom and tradition of the temple. We are in conciliatory talks with all including the thantris (chief priests who set rule in temples). We hope that we will be able to arrive at a good decision," Menon told a news channel.

Meanwhile, another dancer, Soumya Sukumaran, a Christian, claimed that she was also not allowed to perform at the Koodalmanikyam temple on religious grounds.

She told the media that the temple authorities informed her that non-Hindus are barred from performing in the temple.

Menon said as per the custom and traditions, not only artists belonging to other religions, even non-Hindu politicians and workers are not allowed to enter in the temple compound.

When quotations are invited for carrying out various works in the temple, it is clearly mentioned that only workers belonging to Hindu community are allowed in the temple.

"This issue has to be addressed," Menon said.

DYFI, the youth outfit of the CPI(M), condemned the act of barring Mansiya from performing in the temple on religious grounds, saying this was a "great insult" to cultural Kerala.

It said in a statement that the public spaces of Kerala should be transformed into secular venues for promoting art and culture, keeping superstitions at bay.

"Art and culture are the foundation of humanity. DYFI would provide leadership to the interventions required to protect humanity", the outfit said in a release.

Mansiya, a Bharatanatyam dancer and a PhD research scholar in classical dance, had on Monday taken to Facebook saying the temple officials denied her permission to perform despite printing her name in the programme notice. She has declared that she does not belong to any religion.

The temple officials had claimed that she was denied permission as the temple tradition does not allow a non-Hindu to enter the premises.

Mansiya, a Muslim-born woman, was to perform at the 10-day National Festival of Dance and Music organised by the temple to be held from April 15 to 25. Around 800 artists are expected to perform at the temple during the fest.


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