Kerala’s Koodalmanikyam Temple has once again been accused of denying a “non-Hindu” Bharatanatyam dancer a chance to perform there.
The latest controversy comes a day after Mansiya VP, who identifies as an atheist, was barred from performing at the temple on April 21.
Soumya Sukumaran told news agency ANI that she was denied permission because she was a Christian.
“I told them my father was a Hindu and converted to Christianity after marriage. They said had the venue been outside the temple, there would have been no problem, but since this programme will be conducted inside, it would be difficult. I stepped back then,” she said.
Also read: Muslim woman denied permission to perform Bharatanatyam at Koodalmanikyam temple
Temple authorities defended the move, saying Sukumaran submitted her application knowing well that the shrine did not allow non-Hindus to perform.
Calling it part of the temple’s governing rules, chairman of Koodalmanikyam Pradeep Menon said they had “humbly requested” Sukumaran to withdraw her application.
“According to the Koodalmanikyam Devaswom Board Act, non-Hindus are not supposed to enter the temple. 90 per cent of temples in Kerala are governed by this rule, except for Sabarimala,” Menon told a TV channel.
This is a policy matter and the decision needs to be taken at the government level, he said.
“When we call for applications of artistes, we make it extremely clear that only Hindu artistes are allowed to perform. Despite that, we received Ms Soumya’s application. She had mentioned her name as Soumya Sukumaran. As part of our vetting process, we individually call all the applicants to get details. That is when she told us that she is a non-Hindu. She told us her name is Soumya George and she is a Christian. We very humbly told her it would not be possible to perform,” said Menon.
In Mansiya’s case, her performance was already listed in the programme schedule; Menon said Sukumaran was rejected during the vetting process.