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Home / India News / 2009 / January 2009 / January 29, 2009
Mangle the non-Mangalorean Sri Ram Sene
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Mangle the non-Mangalorean Sri Ram Sene

Where are the famous Mangaloreans who brandish their origins at the drop of a hat? Why are they not speaking up for the protection of the secular and liberal culture of this beautiful port city?

New Delhi, Jan.29 : Where are the famous Mangaloreans who brandish their origins at the drop of a hat? Why are they not speaking up for the protection of the secular and liberal culture of this beautiful port city?

Aishwarya Rai (films), Vijay Mallya (industrialist), Suneil Shetty (films), Margaret Alva (politician), George Fernandes (politician), Veerappa Moily (politician), Oscar Fernandes (politician), Veerendra Hegde (Dharmadhikari of the Dharmasthala temple) Shilpa Shetty (actress?) Maxwell Pereira (super cop) and Arvind Adiga (Booker prize) speak up for your city.

This is not the Mangalore that I grew up in...the city where I spent my summers at the homes of aunts and grandparents, visited restaurants and temples, wearing whatever I pleased. Nobody stopped me. Not even the Shankaracharya of the Sri Sharada Peetham, Sringeri.

The Peetham is the first and foremost of the four Peethams established by the renowned 8th century philosopher saint Sri Adi Shankara. This was in 1980, and women were safe in Mangalore. At the Sringeri Math, women only wore saris when they sought the darshan of the Shankaracharya. Rebellious me decided to wear a salwar kameez. I didn't think I was insulting anybody after all, the men were topless! The Swamiji looked at me and asked me very politely in Kannada if I was a north Indian. I replied in chaste Kannada that I was a Kannadiga, but lived in the north. He nodded, smiled and said, "that explains your choice of attire."

I am so glad that in my teen years I only met with the erudite 35th Shankaracharya who embodied what the culture of coastal Karnataka is all about....inclusive, tolerant and respectful of all cultures.

Thankfully Pramod Muthalik hadn't yet formed his Sri Ram Sene. This Marathi-speaking non-Mangalorean, non-Kannadiga from Belgaum was still not sure where his political fortunes lay. He was still trying out his luck with the Shiv Sena, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, the Bajrang Dal, RSS, Rashtriya Hindustan Sena or this new and blasphemous Ram Sene. And during this time, he was also reportedly Nathuram Godse's fan! What an endearing personality!

A part of Mangalore is called Kudla in Tulu (a language spoken in many parts of coastal Karnataka), which literally means junction. The city is situated at the meeting point of rivers Netravati and Phalguni. But figuratively, it is also the junction of various religions and cultures like Hinduism, Jainism, Islam and Christianity.

Mangalore finds mention in the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. It was also in the travel itinerary of Greek, Persian and Portuguese sailors even before the 14th century. Chalukyas, Rashtrakutas and Hoysalas ruled it. And then, there was Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan. Mangaloreans are proud of their inclusive and open culture.

The city has a male literacy rate of 90 percent and a female literacy rate of 80 percent. Do Muthalik and his goondas seriously believe that the educated women of this city need his 'protection'? No thank you. Keep your lathis inside your shakhas. Keep your narrow mindsets inside your darkened walls. By Smita Prakash


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