Chennai, December 12, 2021: Tamil Nadu’s celebrated Bharatanatyam dancer Zakir Hussain was insulted and abused inside the premises of Sri Ranganatha Swamy Temple in Srirangam near Tiruchirappalli, by some self-styled custodian of Santan Dharma on Friday.
Ranganatha Swamy temple is one of the important temples of the Vaishnavite tradition in Tamil Nadu and attracts devotees from across the country.
Zakir Hussain who is the recipient of Kalaimamani award is a well-known Bharatnatyam dancer in Tamil Nadu. In his First Information Report, the dancer reportedly said; after coming out from Rajiv Gandhi hospital where he was admitted for high blood pressure and other symptoms for a few days, he went to offer payers where he was manhandled by few people in the presence of the other devotees.
“When I went to offer prayers, one Rangarajan Narasimhan started shouting at me, get out from here and if you come again, we will kill you.”
Rangarajan Narasimhan, who is named in the FIR by Hussain is an activist based at Srirangam fighting to free temples across Tamil Nadu from government control.
Zakir Hussain lives his life as a Vaishanavite for the past 30 years. He had offered numerous gold ornaments to Vaishnava temples to show his love towards Lord Vishnu.
Hussain reportedly told the media; “I am born to Muslim parents and my father’s elder brother married Alamelu Manga from Hindu Naidu community. He is a great devotee of Lord Perumal (Vishnu) the deity at the Srirangam temple and I started offering prayers under his influence.”
“I have been visiting this temple since the age of three. I learned Bharatnatyam since my childhood in this temple. For a long time, I am dancing Hindu stories in Bharatnatyam. So far none had stopped me stepping into any temple because every temple authority knows me I am a follower of Vaishnava dharma.”
Zakir Hussain said he had offered prayers at the Ranganatha Swamy temple in Srirangam many times before and had even performed Bharatanatyam inside the temple premises in the past.
“This is the first time I was stopped at the temple. I was stopped on the basis of my religious name, and I was literally pushed out by this Rangarajan Narasimhan,” Hussain said.
Even though the display board put up prominently says that only Hindus are allowed beyond a point, but I have always visited the temple and prayed before the deity, Hussain said.
Meanwhile, Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department Minister P Sekar Babu have ordered a joint commissioner of the department to probe the matter.
“Based on the report, follow-up action would be initiated on the issue,” the Minister said, asking the people not to take law into their own hands.
In the meantime, the temple management confirmed the incident and has come out with a press statement that they are conducting a detailed inquiry whether Narasimhan stopped Hussain from entering the temple.
The temple management said none from the administration had stopped Hussain from entering the premises and they are “ready to welcome him anytime.” We will send our inquiry report to the government soon” the temple official said.
There are many Muslim artists who are performing their art at the Hindu religious places of worship in Tamil Nadu. Late Sheik Chinna Moulana popularly known as Sheik was a legendary Nadhaswaram player in the Carnatic tradition.
S. Kasim and S. Babu, the grandsons of the legendary Chinna Moulana, are the inheritors of Nadhaswaram exponent Sheik Chinna Moulana’s musical legacy. The famous duo freely plays their instrument at various temples including the Balaji temple at Tirupati.
The treatment meted out to Bhartnatiyam dancer Zakir Hussain indicative of the fact that how the toxic ideology of Hindutva has permitted into Sanatan Dharma.
Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org