Board banning Muslims to Kerala temple festival sparks controversy

The board, put up at the Sree Malliyottu Palottu Kavu temple in Kannur’s Kunhimangalam, has elicited various reactions on social media.
A board hanged outside a temple in Kerala which read that Muslims have no entry into it during festival days
A board hanged outside a temple in Kerala which read that Muslims have no entry into it during festival days
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A small board hung on a tree announcing “Muslims are not allowed in the temple premises during the festival season” has caused a lot of uproar on social media in the last few days. This board was found on the premises of the Sree Malliyottu Palottu Kavu temple in Kannur district’s Kunhimangalam.

No entry boards for non-Hindus are common in temples across Kerala, but what makes this one more controversial is the mention of a particular religion. However, it is learnt that the temple committee has been placing this board during the festival season for the last three decades.

The board has elicited various reactions on social media, with some alleging that the Sangh Parivar agenda is being implemented in the temple. But, in fact, Kunhimangalam village is well-known as a Communist Party of India (Marxist) stronghold and most of the temple committee members are party workers.

The place is known for its secularism, with Theyyam (a ritual artform associated with kavus) artistes going to meet the Muslim leaders of Madayi, which is close to Kunhimangalam, to get their blessings. Theyyam performers would greet the Muslims in the region with “Ente Madayiye”, which means ‘My Madayi’.

Due to these reasons, many have criticised the board. Many have also slammed the CPI(M) for its double standards on secularism.

“The BJP or RSS is not strong here, it’s purely a party village. It is the CPI(M) that decides things here. Still the board has been placed here as a practice, but they have their reasons though,” a person who lives close to Kunhimangalam says.

Film and theatre actor Santhosh Keezhattoor said that anybody can enter kavus (sacred groves), adding he didn’t understand the mentality of the people who placed the board.

Manoj PT, a theatre artist, wrote on Facebook, “I have been close to Kunhimangalam village for the last 40 years. When I was in school, there would be a jeep that made a special trip to Kunhimangalam during the festive season as people would go there to watch the play at the Malliyottu temple. Not just from my village, people from other parts of Kannur and Kasaragod would also come to watch the play. But Mammoonjikka, the jeep’s driver, wouldn’t be able to watch the play. I’ve heard that people from that religion were taken to a nearby paddy field and beaten up. Even then and even before that this discrimination was there. At that time, the board said “Non-Hindus not allowed”, now it is specific to Muslims. It is the victory of fascists who nurtured Islamophobia.”

A long-time practice


“Madayi, which has a prominent Muslim presence, is close to Kunjimangalam. Decades ago, there were issues between the Muslims of Madayi and the people of Kunhimangalam inside the temple premises during the festival. Over the years, clashes became a routine during temple festivals. Then the temple authorities and elders from the Muslim community and the mosque in Madayi held a discussion and decided to restrict the entry of Muslims during the festival season,” a person close to the temple committee said.

“Since the understanding is between the two communities, the religion is mentioned on the board,” he added.

But the representatives of the temple committee refused to react saying that it’s been a long-time practice.

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