Support for Mansiya grows; 5 Artists Boycott Temple Dance Festival

Anju Aravind, Aparna Ramachandran, Devika Sajeevan, Ganga Laxmi and Karthik Manikandan are the dancers who decided to leave the festival

Temple authorities had recently withdrawn the approval given to Mansiya to perform at the festival, saying non-Hindus could not enter the temple premises.

Several Kerala artists have shown their support for Bharatnatyam dancer Mansiya and decided to boycott the national dance festival at Koodal Manikya temple in Irinjalakkuda, Thrissur.

Temple authorities had recently withdrawn the approval given to Mansiya to perform at the festival, saying non-Hindus could not enter the temple premises.

So far, five dancers have announced that they will boycott the festival in protest against temple authorities and in solidarity with Mansiya, who is a Muslim by religion.

Anju Aravind, Aparna Ramachandran, Devika Sajeevan, Ganga Laxmi and Karthik Manikandan are the dancers who have decided to leave the festival.

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“If they had such a condition, they should have informed us well in advance. They approved Mansiya’s application, accepted her biodata, scheduled her program and printed posters. After that, they informed her that she couldn’t participate. It’s an insult to artists,” said Anju Aravind, a friend of Mansiya. The Federal.

last minute status

Anju, who is pursuing a doctoral degree in Bharatanatyam at the Central University of Hyderabad, said she also had other reasons for boycotting the festival.

“After finalizing the program and planning the performance, they asked us to sign documents. On behalf of all of us, Aparna went to the scene to sign the documents. It was only then that we realized that we had to declare in writing that we were believers in the Hindu religion,” Anju said.

Anju Aravind during one of her performances

Anju and her friends decided not to sign such a statement. “The religion you follow is a matter of personal choice. It has nothing to do with art. None of us wanted to make such a commitment,” Anju added.

Mansiya was contacted by phone by temple authorities a few days ago and told she could not perform due to her religious identity. “It was like a statement; neither did they apologize. I was also asked if I converted to the Hindu religion after my marriage,” Mansiya said. The Federal.

Mansiya recently married a violin artist, a Hindu. “I asked them how I could convert since I follow no religion,” said Mansiya, who confessed to being an atheist.

Shyam Kalyan, violinist and husband of Mansiya, posted on Facebook: “Art is our religion. And we are devotees of our Almighty, Dance and Music. Being and living as a human being can be more difficult, but if it gives us immense pleasure and gives meaning to our lives”.

Growing discrimination

Discrimination based on religion is not new to Mansiya. When she started performing in public 15 years ago, she encountered resistance from the Mohalla committee in her village.

The committee’s call to boycott his family created controversy in 2005-06. This time, she received support from a large number of people.

“My parents had lived a difficult life in the face of boycott and ostracism at home. However, they stood by my side like a rock and supported my passion for dancing,” Mansiya said.

Soumya Sukumaran, another Bharatanatyam dancer, was also denied permission to perform due to her religious identity.

Sukumaran, a Christian, was told by authorities to produce a ‘caste certificate’ to get a performance endorsement. She told the media that this happened after informing temple authorities that she was a Christian.

Karthik Manikandan, another artist who boycotted the temple dance festival

“Mansiya is one of us. We don’t want to perform in a place Mansiya can’t go,” dancer Aparna Ramachandran, whose performance was scheduled for April 23, wrote on Facebook. She also expressed her solidarity with the performers who refused to endorse their religious belief as a condition for performing at the temple. “We are all artists beyond religion,” she said.

In another recent incident, Vinod, a ‘Poorakkali’ performer, a traditional northern Malabar dance form practiced in temples, was denied permission to perform at a Bhagavati temple in Kannur because his son had married a Muslim.

“The increasing number of such incidents of discrimination against artists on the basis of religion is an indication of the direction the country is heading,” said KK Shailaja, former Minister of Health and Social Justice, adding that Kerala has a rich and long tradition of religious cohabitation. “Even religious festivals are celebrated by people of all religions in Kerala. We must be vigilant against an organized attempt to communalize public spaces and art,” she said.

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