Muslim boy faces discrimination during initiation ceremony

The discrimination meted out to two-and-a-half year old Munavar Ali sparked strong protest from cultural circles and some of the writers who turned up to attend a literary meeting planned on the occasion boycotted it.

The Guruvayur temple authority declined to comment on the incident.The boy's father Sunil Raj,a police sub-inspector of Melattur station near here, said he had sent a policeman to the organisers two days back for registering his son's name for the ceremony and they did not raise any objection in the name of religion then.
However,when he and his son turned up for the ritual yesterday, the temple representatives present there said it would be difficult to allow Munavar to undego the ceremony at the 'Saraswathi mandapam' inside the home where other children were seated.

As the issue sparked an instant protests, some of those present made arrangements for Munavar's initiation at the outer-layer of the building, at the initiative of the office-bearers of Poonthanam Smaraka Samiti.

Sunilraj said though he was "disappointed" he did not have any grouse towards anybody or plans to lodge complaint with the authorities.

Sunilraj,who hails from Aalappuzha district, said it was a nomral practice in his area for people of all faith to have their children undergo the "vidyarmbham.'

A Namboodiri Brahmin who lived a few centuries back, Poonthanam is a highly revered devotional poet in Malayalam and is closely associated with the legends of the Guruvayur temple as a staunch Krishna devotee.

The poet's home, known as "Poonthanam illam", near Perinthalmanna in Malappuram district was taken over by Guruvayur temple management some time back.
Though originally a Hindu custom, 'Vidyarambham' in Kerala has acquired a secular character over the years with people from all faith choosing it as the occasion for their children to be initiated into the world of letters.

According to C V Sadasivan, a local Congress leader and former chairman of the Poonthanam Trust, there was a court order some time back asking the Trust to treat the poonthanam illam as a temple as there was a shrine inside it where the poet used to worship.

However, the present office-bearers of the Trust did not bother to challenge the order and restore the secular character of the the 'poonthanam illam', which was the reason for unfortunate incidents like this to happen, he said

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