Tharoor takes centre stage at Mathrubhumi literary festival

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Thiruvananthapuram, Feb 3 (IANS) Congress MP Shashi Tharoor stole the show on the second day of the three day Mathrubhumi International Festival of Letters being held here as he took the centre stage to explain what prompted him to pen his latest book “Why I am a Hindu”.

Explaining this at a session with journalist and author Mihir Bose, Tharoor said penning the book resonated from his upbringing and the fact that Hinduism “has now been reduced to a contemporary political distortion”.

“It has now been distorted to a faith of delirious fanaticism. The time has come to say to the public that what you portray is not Hinduism but pseudo-‘sick’ularism, which is the famous term of abuse by trollers,” he told the packed audience.

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He added that his book is not on Hindutva but on Hinduism.

“It is saying that Hindutva is not Hinduism which is a religion of acceptance, a religion of ahimsa and satya,” he added.

Another interesting session of the day was a panel discussion moderated by acclaimed writer Anita Nair where Centre for Elephant Studies Director T.S. Rajeev and wildlife photographer and nature conservation activist N.A. Naseer shared their experiences.

The session “Malayaliyude Aana – kodum sneham, kodum droham (Elephants of Malayalees – extreme love and extreme atrocity)” covered several aspects of the Malayalees’ love for the elephant, which according to the panellists, was now an obsession with little regard for the welfare of the animal.

Rajeev explained the physical and behavioural peculiarities of the elephant that made the animal a misfit for the role imposed on it by Malayalees – that of leading processions at temple festivals.

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“Elephants have a lower body temperature than human beings, so the animals should not be exposed to extreme hot weather. But temple festivals are held at the hottest time of the year,” he said.

Nair recalled the pride with which “temple committee members showed off the number of elephants arranged for the festival” at her hometown in Kerala while no one spared a second thought about the inconvenience caused to the animals in the process.

Her latest book “Kaakae, Kaakae koodu evide” was also released.

Naseer, who shot to fame 25 years ago with this disturbing photograph of an injured elephant being used in a temple procession, said he was at the event hoping to bring awareness to the issue.

The three day event, which ends on Sunday, has seen William Dalrymple, Ukrainian novelists Oksana Zabuzho and Andrei Kurkov, Ghanian Ayesha Harruna Attah, Malaysian novelist, poet and educator, Bernice Chauly and around 100 writers from 10 countries taking part.

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–IANS

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