| Meera Jasmine: Conversion row
Thiruvananthapuram, July 1: After Jayamala, it’s Jasmine now. But the men of God don’t like the scent at all.
South Indian actress Meera Jasmine, a Christian by birth, had the priests of Kerala’s Rajarajeswara temple scrambling to purify the shrine after she was spotted coming out. Reason: the temple doesn’t allow non-Hindus, and women are let in only after 8 when the evening prayers are over.
The actress, who was accompanied by Narayanan Kutty, the producer of her hit movie Vadakkumnathan, offered ghee and a golden pot at the shrine in Kannur district.
Jasmine said she had no intention of breaking tradition or fooling the temple staff. “I had obtained prior sanction of the temple head before planning to worship there,” she said.
A few days ago, another actress, Jayamala, had kicked off a controversy when she said she had prayed at the Sabarimala hill shrine in 1987 and also ended up touching the idol.
The temple, Kerala’s leading Hindu shrine, welcomes people from all faiths ' unless they happen to be women between 10 and 50. After the Kannada actress’s “admission”, a leading priest at the temple threatened to take her to court for “spreading canards”.
Jasmine was stopped as she was coming out of the temple. Asked if she wasn’t a Christian, Kutty, the producer, said she had converted. But the priests were not taking any chances. The very next day, they purified the premises.
Sources said Jasmine could make a quick offering as a relative of the producer made all the arrangements, including paying the fees for the special offering well in advance.
Jasmine, however, said she had not converted and didn’t plan to. “I believe God has no religion. We create differences on caste and creed. I’ve bowed before Guruvayurappan standing outside the temple because non-Hindus are barred there. I pray wherever I prefer to but, if there’s a restriction, I keep off.”
The temple authorities have decided against pursuing the issue and say they have carried out all the purification rituals.
For Jayamala, however, the controversy is far from over. The Travancore Devaswom Board, which governs the Sabarimala temple, is waiting for a report from its vigilance wing into the actress’s revelations.
The temple board, which meets on July 7, will decide on the probe. The vigilance wing would also question Jayamala in Bangalore and the staff who were at the temple during the actress’s controversial visit.
Devawsom Employees Union leader G. Baiju said the probe by the vigilance wing probe is too inadequate and demanded an investigation by an independent agency.
The main priest’s family, which enjoys traditional rights of service at the shrine, has termed as “unfortunate” the row in the Karnataka Assembly over the controversy. Lawmakers had yesterday rallied behind the actress, flaying the anti-women tradition in a fully literate state like Kerala.
The Karnataka House is scheduled to take up the issue again on Monday.