Amit Shah extends Vaman Jayanti wishes, outraged Twitter Malayalees say #PoMoneShaji

After Prime Minister Narendra Modi, it is the turn of BJP president Amit Shah, to suffer an embarrassment in Kerala.

BJP president Amit Shah. Reuters

BJP president Amit Shah. Reuters

Shah is being ridiculed on Twitter for extending Vaman Jayanti wishes to Malayalis on the eve of Onam. And the hashtag that is trending is #PoMoneShaji - a stark reminder of #PoMoneModi that trended just before the Kerala state elections after Modi compared Kerala to Somalia.

The hashtag is a take off from a hit one-liner by Malayalam super star Mohanalal, "nee po mone Dinesha", in the super hit movie 'Narasimham'. "Nee po mone Dinesha" means 'get lost Dinesha, my son'.

Shah's tweet wishing Vaman Jayanti is to be seen in the context of the RSS attempt to Vaishnavaise Onam, a harvest festival in Kerala that celebrates the return of Asura king Mahabali. Legend has it that Mahabali's rule was the golden age in Kerala, when everybody was equal and there was no falsehood or cheating. The Devas in the heaven got jealous and sought the help of Vishnu to thwart Bali. Vishnu in the avatar of Vaman, a dwarf, sought three feet of land from Mahabali. The generous king is said to have obliged while Vaman grew in size and in two steps measured heaven and earth. Mahabali offered his own head for the third measure. Vaman pushed Bali into the Patal, the netherworld, but not without giving him permission visit the state once yearly. His visit is celebrated as Onam in Kerala. However, the RSS is of the opinion that Onam was originally celebrated as Vaman Jayanti. In the Onam special issue of RSS mouthpiece Kesari Weekly, an article by Unnikrishnan Namboorthiri has claimed that “Vamana didn’t send Mahabali to hell. On the contrary, the ruler was honourably rehabilitated to a place which is more comfortable than heaven.” (Translation by Scroll.) The overturning of the legend is an attempt at Brahmanising the Onam festival. It is only the Brahmins in the state who worship Vaman during Onam. A vast majority of Hindus in the state see Onam as a festival closely linked to the harvest. And for Dalits, Bali is a hero, a symbol of equality. However, the RSS's attempt to Brahmanise Onam seems to have fallen flat with Keralites mostly rejecting the idea lock, stock and barrel. It also has to be seen in the context of the BJP's attempt to gain a foot hold in the social and political space in Kerala and also the recent spate of Dalit uprising in Gujarat and elsewhere that has put the party in a tight spot. If anything, overturning the myth will only antagonise the Dalits in Kerala. Here are a few tweets rejecting Shah's wishes:

Updated Date: Sep 14, 2016 09:22 AM

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