A social media post claims that as a result of the Kerala government’s action of appointing Muslim and Christian priests in temples, these priests are reciting Adhan and consuming alcohol & meat during Hindu rituals. In support of the argument, the post shares a clip of a ritual, wherein the priest can be heard reciting Adhan. Through this article let’s fact-check the claim made in the post.
Claim: Priests reciting Adhan during a Hindu ritual, because of Kerala government’s decision to appoint Muslim and Christian priests in temples.
Fact: The viral visuals show a ritual called Theyyam, dominant in North Kerala. And the particular video is from Kassargod, where Mappila Theyyam are performed. Usually during Mappila Theyyams, Hindu performers dress as Muslims and recite Adhan. Also, some Theyyams involve alcohol and meat offerings. Further there is no evidence to conclude that Kerala government is recruiting Muslims/ Christians as priests in Hindu temples. Hence the claim made in the post is FALSE.
The ritual seen in the viral video is called ‘Theyyam’, a ritual art form that originated in North Kerala and can also be seen in some parts of Karnataka. Reverse image search of the screen shots of the viral video, yielded multiple news reports, which reported the same video (here, here, here & here).
As per these reports, the visuals show Manichi & Bapiriyan Theyyam, unique rituals of North Malabar. And this video is from Kasaragod district.
Manichi & Bapiriyan Theyyam:
Taking a cue from this, through Google search, we found that there are over 400 separate Theyyams, each with their own music, style and choreography. The most prominent among these are Raktha Chamundi, Kari Chamundi, Muchilottu Bhagavathi, Wayanadu Kulaven, Gulikan and Pottan (here & here).
In north Kerala, Manichi Theyyam and Bapiriyan (Bappooran) Theyyams are known as Muslim/ Mappila Theyyam , as Muslims are addressed as Mappila. In these, Hindus play Muslim characters and perform Islamic rituals. And there are about 15 such Mappila Theyyams, depicting Hindu-Muslim religious harmony.
Further, according to these reports, some Theyyam’s in North Kerala also involve offering alcohol and meat to the performers.
Hence, these details ascertain that the viral visuals shared in the post, are part of a ritual dominant in North Kerala which involves Muslim community and alcohol.
Kerala Government appointing Muslims/ Christians as priests:
According to this article, Kerala has temples that are managed by state-run temple boards, private temple boards, or by community organisations such as Nair Service Society (NSS) and Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana (SNDP) Yogam, Akhila Bharatha Ayyappa Seva Sangham, etc.
Staff, including priests are recruited by the respective temple boards. And recruitment to the temples under the boards are done as per Hindu Religious Institutions Act 1951, except for posts which are bequeathed to a family member traditionally. Further, as per the existing norms, SCs get 10% reservation, while STs get 2% share in recruitment.
There are reports stating that in 2017, Travancore board for the first-time appointed Dalits as priests in various temples under it. However, we could not find any official information/news reports with regards to Muslims/ Christians being appointed as priests by the government.
To sum it up, these visuals show Mappila Theyyam performance in North Kerala, which involve reciting Adhan.