Thiruvananthapuram: There are many things about Kerala that some say had upset the gods. We eat beef. We kill strays. Nearly half of us are Christians and Muslims.
And then, to top it all, some of our women have asked that they be allowed inside Sabarimala. And so, as divine retribution, the deluge. Sit back and enjoy as the waters gobble up the infidels.
A devilish glee is fast spreading across the social media. “Don’t donate to Kerala. More than half the state is Muslims and Christians. Let them suffer for what they are trying to do for Sabarimalai.
They are messing with the wrong god,” says a Facebook post by Selva who has a profile pic of M S Dhoni in Chennai Super Kings attire.
Selva’s advice not to donate has been put out by the state, too, but in a grateful and overwhelming sense. There is such a torrent of help coming the state’s way, in the form of materials and volunteers, that district authorities in various parts of the state had to say ‘enough’. Many collection centres in Thiruvananthapuram had to be shut down because the help received was considerably more than what was asked for.
The stray curse
A Facebook user named Shruthi Dutta (presumably a female), who has a dog as profile pic, said the floods were the curse of the stray dogs. She said Kerala deserved the suffering for killing stray dogs. “RIP Keralites,” she ended her post.
The counter came in such pan-India force that Dutta had to take out her message. Those from places as far as Assam, Himachal Pradesh and Kashmir had asked Dutta to get lost. It was as if she had insulted the whole of India.
Such fight-backs, of course, are no deterrent. Sneers are looking to drown the cries. Another image that went viral was a bird’s eye view photograph of submerged Kannur. It is as if God is witnessing the devastation from above.
On top is written, in Hindi: “Look at God’s justice, the Kannur district where 'gau mata' was publicly slaughtered is now totally destroyed by the floods.” (The reference was to the public beheading of a cow by a group of foolhardy Youth Congress members in Kannur last year when the beef controversy was raging across the state.) And then below the image, as a punchline of sorts: “The one sitting above might delay justice, but he is not blind.”
A cockamamie tweet
It becomes more worrisome when people in positions of power, opinion makers, find abstract religious reasons for nature’s fury. Here is what the right-wing ideologue S Gurumurthy said in a tweet:
“Supreme Court judges may like to see if there is any connection between the case and what is happening in Sabarimala. Even if there is one in a million chance of a link, people would not like the case decided against Ayyappan.” (The case he referred to is the one filed by Indian Young Lawyers’ Association in the Supreme Court seeking women’s entry into Sabarimala.)
When a ‘follower’ called it “nonsense” and a “cockamamie tweet”, Gurumurthy, as if it would reassure others of his sanity, said: “For the info of all I am not an Ayyappa devotee.”
Veteran psychologist Cheraman Madhavan uses a German term to describe this vindictive glee: “schadenfreude”. “It is nothing but the pleasure derived from another’s misfortune,” he said.
“Such a mindset has been found in people fanatic about an idea, any idea, not just religion or country. Such people harbour a multi-dimensional hate for anything, be it an individual or an entity, that stands against their idea.
So when misfortune strikes the other, the enemy, they get this exhilarating feel of vindication. It is a kind of intoxication,” Madhavan said.
It is perhaps this high that prompts even Malayalis to shower abuses on the suffering. A video that has gone viral has a female in the kind of look avenging goddesses are given in television serials (flowing hair, red round sindoor between eyebrows, flaming eyes) using foul language against Malayali women.
This female, who introduces herself as Baby from Kalpathy, blames women who have sought an entry into Sabarimala for all the troubles the state is now facing.
“What did you girls get by wanting to see Ayyappan. Can you take penance for 41 days? How can you call yourself female? By making such shameless demands, you have made it impossible for even men to go to Sabarimala,” she says. And with apparently uncontrollable disgust she adds: “I am praying hard that such women should drown in the rising waters.”
Travancore Devaswom Board president A Padmakumar is furious. “It is the ones with bogus faith who spread such ideas,” he said. Incidentally, he had taken a stand against women’s entry into Sabarimala.
“It is their feeble understanding of faith that makes them say that divine powers are out to wreak vengeance,” he said.