Kerala Temple Festival: 3 Dancers Refuse to Perform After 2 Non-Hindu Artistes Turned Away

At least three dancers have withdrawn from the Koodalmanikyam Temple Dance Festival in Kerala’s Thrissur, after dancer Mansiya V P and Soumya Sukumaran said they were not allowed to perform for being “non-Hindus”.

Dancers Anju Aravind, Karthik Manikandan and Devika Sajeevan said they have decided not to perform at the festival.

Anju Aravind told CNN-NEWS18: “I know Mansiya since childhood. We were part of youth festivals. Her application was accepted, photos and other details taken and after printing notice, they are not allowing her to perform.”

Anju said that when her friend went to confirm her presence at the event, they asked her to sign a form saying ‘I am Hindu’.

Anju said, “It is not just a column for religion where we have to tick on Hindu. It is a separate disclosure which we are supposed to sign. I can’t imagine we are being made to prove that we are Hindus. I just couldn’t take it.”

She said the artistes treat this performance as “an offering” and pay those accompanying from their own pockets. It costs a minimum of Rs 40,000. Anju said, “If they don’t value art and artistes, why should we go out of our way to perform?” Her performance was scheduled on April 21.

Karthik Manikandan said, “It felt awkward as an artiste to sign on something like this. The organisers have so many rules, even though we are performing our acts as offerings. It feels like we are participating in a competition, but are not being treated like professional dancers.” He was supposed to perform on April 17.

Devika Sajeevan posted on Facebook, “Namaskaram, As I feel the need to stand with fellow artistes who faced unfortunate incidents, I choose to refrain from doing this performance at Koodalmanikyam dance festival scheduled to be held on 24-04-22.”

Koodalmanikyam Devaswom board chairman Pradeep Menon said, “Hundreds of people apply to perform at the festival. It has not come to our notice that someone has withdrawn, even if they have, we will invite the others. We are not interested in discussing this further.”

He added, “Here, we follow all rules. Not just the artistes, even the mahouts and cooks need to be Hindus.”

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