Entry of Non-Hindus in Guruvayoor

Recently there was a controversy in Kerala over Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse’s visit to Guruvayoor temple. It seems his wife entered the temple and the issue was if she was a Christian or a Buddhist. In Guruvayoor temple only Hindus are allowed to enter and there is a strict dress code. Men have to remove their shirt and wear a mundu. Women are allowed to wear only sarees and girls have to wear a skirt and blouse.

This is one busy temple and there is a guard at the door checking to see if you confirm to the dress code and I am not sure if he checks the religion also. If so, it would be an amazing skill, for there is no easy way to find the religion of an Indian, unless he is wearing a symbol, like the cross. Due to this it is possible for people of any religion to enter the temple, but only famous people are stopped.

So when Congress leader, Vayalar Ravi’s son’s marriage was conducted in Guruvayoor, the authorities had to clean the temple because Vayalar Ravi’s wife was a Christian. If it were two ordinary folks, no one would have questioned this nor cleaned the temple. Other famous people who have been denied entry are singer Yesudas, who is a devotee of Guruvayoorappan and poet Yusuf Ali Kecheri, who lives close to the temple and has written many devotional songs.

But then how can we assume that all Hindus too are devotees? Communists are known to be atheists and what is the logic in allowing them to enter the temple. Recently in a statement, the temple authorities said that people of Buddhist and Jain faiths are allowed entry, since they are treated on par with Hinduism. This even more odd since both these religions do not recognize God as Hindus do. In Jainism, there is no creator god and a person is responsible for his actions. Buddha claimed that his enlightenment was not due to any divine intervention. It seems illogical that when followers of such agnostic religions are allowed entry, people who believe in Guruvayoorappan are not.

Related Links: Anand writes on the reforms initiated by his father at Guruvayoor. Bhavane rolls his eyes as he reads about the marxist temple minister. Rajeev Srinivasan makes the counterpoint.

11 Comments

  1. jk — I agree with what you say. If atheists like me can enter a temple, I think it makes sense to allow true devotees entry irrespective of their religion.

    Incidentally, Rediff (& hence Bhavane) is wrong. That minister is not a Marxist. He belongs to the Janata Dal.

  2. Rajeev’s analogy to the Pope’s “private” chapel and Mecca are laughable at best. The Pope’s “private” chapel is meant for the Pope and the people that serve in his “household”. Mecca on the other hand is the holiest place for the muslims that go on a pilgrimage and therefore non-Muslims are not allowed in the city. Guruvayoor should be compared with St. Peters Cathedral; unless, of course, Rajeev is implying that Guruvayoor is also a “private” temple of its priests ;).

    Usually the parents and priests meet before the “baptism” to talk about the responsibilities of the parents. During “baptism”, the parents are asked if they will bring their child up in a Christian home. It is very rare for a priest to refuse “baptism” – often, it is “come back when you are ready”.

  3. IndianXian, Guruvayoor temple is a holy place for Hindus and actually there is no need to permit anyone else to enter, just like in Mecca. But then there is some reformists who want anyone who believe to be allowed to enter and already it is happening in temples like Sabarimala.

  4. My point of contention is merely the inappropriate comparison in Rajeev’s post. Mecca and Medina are pilgrimage centers – I haven’t seen any of my Hindu friends describe their going to Guruvayoor, a “pilgrimage”, unlike going to Sabarimala. I don’t see the difference between Guruvayoor, and say Tirupati, for instance, (apart from the deities worshipped and yummy laddoos) and I was merely curious.

    Reform is always better when it comes from within rather than by diktat. It is upto the temple authorities to decide on criterion of admission and in my opinion, they are well within their rights to do whatever they please.

    Congratulations on a great and informative blog.

  5. Indian Xian,

    Are you using a common standard of pilgrimage applicable across systems of belief? I don’t use the term religion for Hinduism since it is not one. Could the question whether a shrine is a pilgrimage destination be left to Hindus themselves? For my motehr-in-law visiting the small Pillayar Kovil at the corner of my street in Madras was a pilgrimage. Being from Bengal she had never been to a mandir like that. For me visiting Siddhi Vinayak in Bombay for the first time was a pilgrimage.

  6. It is true that all temples to be opened for all the people, because none of them belong to hiindus alone, it is ruled and managed by govt, in Kerala, tamil nadu as well in karnataka and AP. Therefore not only the temples but also the sanctum sanctorium to be opened to all the people, who want see, enter, do pooja, take photos or have fun there. Further it is a racial and cast based discrimination not allowing people inside sanctum sanctorium. I also suggest another secular suggestion is that the prasadams where desigend by bramins as thier food, the lower cast foods are not served as prasadam, why this discrimination. Those Belong to Paraya cast eats beef from age unkown, why not include it in the prasadam. This is again a racial discrimination .

  7. i dont no how to check the religion of a person….they can only check the dress code and all. if any of my friends’ who s very interested to see the temple, surly i will guide him. what these idiots can do then, they can ban only famous people. all human who love guruvayoorappan can be able to enter the temple…we need a law like that. luckily they did not ban the voice of yesudas inside the temple.

  8. This peoples are mad.i m also a Hindu.I am asking you people how many gods we all are having?count it.other krishna temples are permitted to Non hindus then why only guruvayur?rule means same for each and everywhere.really shame on you GURUVAYOOR POOJAREES

Comments are closed.