Protests erupted in Thrissur in Kerala after writer Sreedevi S Kartha was asked not to attend the launch of a book translated by her as women are not allowed to share stage with a Hindu seer who was the chief guest.
Sreedevi’s Malayalam translation of the book ‘Transcendence: My spiritual Experience with Pramukh Swamiji’ co-authored by former President APJ Abdul Kalam and Arun Tiwari was scheduled to be launched on Saturday.
However, in a Facebook post on Friday night, she lashed out at the event organizers who had allegedly told her that she could not share the stage with the chief guest Swami Brahmavihari Das, who is a representative of Pramukh Swamiji of the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha.
The reason, she says, is that the seer believes that the “impure shadow of woman” cannot fall on Swamiji.
In her Facebook post the writer said: “I have been forbidden from being on stage when my work is being released,” she wrote, on account of “weird and laughable restrictions”.
She said that the organizers had been instructed not to allow any woman to share the stage with the Swamji, and that no one apart from the men in the Swamiji’s entourage could sit in the first three rows at the event.
The translation titled 'Kalaateetam', was commissioned by Current Books in Thrissur which expected to sell about two lakh copies.
Protests broke out outside the Sahitya Akademi Hall in Thrissur, where the co-author Arun Tiwari and writer MT Vasudevan Nair were supposed to release the book.
Following protests, Current Books had asked the Swamiji to skip the event. According to reports, MT Vasudevan Nair refused to come to the event following Sreedevi Kartha’s revelations. Protestors also turned their ire on social activist Sarah Joseph who was invited to release the book after it became clear that that the Swami would not be allowed to do the same. They blamed her for supporting an ‘anti-woman’ event. When the protestors (belonging to many political and cultural organizations) showed no signs of calming down, the event was called off.
Photo by Arungeorge K David
A spokesperson from the Sanstha told The News Minute that women are not allowed near the Swamijis. When asked how it was justified when the woman who had translated the book was not allowed, the person said, “She has only translated.”
Sreedevi who also addressed a press meet did not spare the publishing house either, and said in her Facebook post: “Surprise! A publishing house that nurtures writers and is nurtured by writers suddenly lost the grit to reject such a vulgar request! Apart from the shameful request that I stay away from the event, which was conveyed to me through a colleague, the owner of the institution has not even bothered to call me and apologise.”
Current Books apologised to Sreedevi and told the media they regret causing her hurt.
In April this year, the Sanstha was in a controversy after Mumbai Deputy Mayor Alka Kerkar and ABP Majha correspondent Rashmi Puranik were not allowed to sit on stage or sit in the front rows.
Abdul Kalam and Arun Tiwari with Pramukh Swamiji in June this year