Activists foiled a book launch function in Kerala’s Thrissur on Saturday after a woman writer was allegedly asked to stay away to please a spiritual leader, underlining the gender bias prevalent in the country’s most literate state.
The function was organised for the formal release of the Malayalam version of a book by former President APJ Abdul Kalam, translated by Sridevi S Kartha, the alleged victim.
Sridevi alleged she was asked not to attend the function as Brahma Vihari Das of BAPS Swami Narayana Sanstha did not like the presence of women on the stage along with him.
“The first three rows also should be reserved for Swami’s followers so that they can ensure that even impure shadow of women must not fall on him,” Sridevi sarcastically said in her Facebook post.
She also announced her decision to boycott the function.
The publisher had approached the writer to translate the work of Kalam, ‘Transcendence of My Spiritual Experience with Pramukh Swamiji’, co-authored with Arun Tiwari, a long time acquaintance of the Missile Man.
As the function started on Saturday at Sahitya Academy hall in Thrissur, more than 250 km north of capital Thiruvananthapuram, a group of women activists stormed the venue shouting slogans against the publisher and spiritual leaders.
The seer, however, did not turn up for the function.
However, the publisher said the issue arose due to a misunderstanding.
“We never wanted to insult the writer,” said OJ Johny, manager of the publishing firm. Johny also said that they normally do not invite translators for book release functions.
Noted writer MT Vasudevan Nair who was also invited to the function did not turn up.
Co-author of the book Arun Tiwari was present. Most of the invitees later told the media that they were not aware of the controversy.
When contacted the Mutt refused to entertain any inquiry.
Reacting to the issue, noted poet Sugathakumari said those “who are afraid of their mothers should go back to dark-age caves.”
“Hinduism is the only religion which visualises God in the form of women and our ancient saint and social reformers like Swami Vivekanada, Sree Narayana Guru and Ramana Mahrashi had never shown discrimination towards women,” she added.
(With inputs from PTI)