Kerala: Temple Cancels Non-Hindu Bharatanatyam Dancer's Performance

The Koodalmanikyam Temple in Thrissur told Mansiya V.P. that she cannot perform because she is a non-Hindu. The dancer was born a Muslim but has stated she "has no religion".

Listen to this article:

New Delhi: Mansiya V.P., a Muslim-born Bharatanatyam dancer, has claimed that a temple in Kerala’s Thrissur district has barred her from performing at a scheduled event on its premises because she is a non-Hindu.

According to the Indian Express, the Koodalmanikyam Temple at Irinjalakuda in Thrissur is gearing up for a ten-day festival in which around 800 artists will perform in various events. The temple is under the management of the state government’s controlled Devaswom Board.

Mansiya was set to perform at an event on the temple premises on April 21 but was informed by one of the office-bearers that she cannot do so “because of her religion”.

The dancer had in the past spoken up about facing ostracism and social pressure from fellow members of the Muslim community for her decision to dance.

Mansiya, who is currently a PhD research scholar in Bharatanatyam, said in a Facebook post that she does not have any religion. She married musician Shyam Kalyan, a Hindu.

Also Read: In ‘Mee Raqsam’, The Struggles of a Muslim Girl Studying a ‘Hindu’ Dance Tell a Bigger Story

According to the Indian Express, her Facebook post reads, “One of the temple office-bearers informed me that I cannot perform at the temple as I am a non-Hindu. All stages are allotted based on religion, not considering whether you are a good dancer or not. In the meantime, I have also been facing queries about whether I got converted into a Hindu after marriage. I have no religion and where should I go.’’

The dancer also stated that this was not the first time that she was prevented from performing because she is not a Hindu. The IE report says she claimed that the Guruvayur Sri Krishna temple, also in Thrissur, had prevented her from performing because she is a non-Hindu. “Art and artists continue to be knotted with religion and caste. When it is forbidden to one religion, it becomes the monopoly of another religion. This experience is not new to me. I am recording it here (on Facebook) only to remind that nothing has changed in our secular Kerala,’’ the post says, according to IE.

According to the report, Koodalmanikyam Devaswom Board chairman Pradeep Menon said Mansiya was prevented from performing in line with the temple’s “existing tradition”, which says only Hindus can perform within the compound.

“As per our norms, we have to ask the artists whether they are Hindus or non-Hindu. Mansiya had given in writing that she has no religion. Hence, she was denied the venue. We have gone as per the existing tradition at the temple,’’ he told the Indian Express.