Coming down heavily on vain glorious critics, the famous Malayalam poet, Mahakavi P Kunhiraman Nair, once said “they are like pigs in a beautiful garden”. This comment is apt in the case of some Malayalam Left intellectuals who connived with Islamists to launch a tirade against popular culinary expert Pazhayidom Mohanan Namboothiri who used to run the kitchen of the Kerala State School Kalolsavam. Pained by the criticism, the pious Namboothiri announced that he will not be running the kitchen for the youth festival from next year.
According to Namboothiri, it has become very “dangerous proposition” to run the kitchen in the changed social environment. “Supervising the kitchen has become tiresome. I will not be cooking for the Kerala School Kalolsavam anymore. A concerted and vicious campaign was unleashed against me. Recently, there were some deaths due to consumption of non-vegetarian food,” said Pazhiyidom.
“The school fest kitchens were my treasure. However, when the new generation of sycophants come forward with these allegations, it is not right of me to hold on to that jewel,” he said. He said he doesn’t want to turn kitchens which serve food to children to be a battleground. “If that happens, the victim could be an innocent child. I am not for that,” he added.
For starters, Pazhiyidom is brand in itself for authentic vegetarian Kerala cuisines. He holds a record in feeding maximum of number of people in one of the biggest youth festivals, arguably in the world. He has been winning the tender for the food serving in the Kerala Kalolstavam for the last 16 years.
Namboothiri’s critics could not find any fault with the quality, quantity or hygiene of the food preparation. They had only one complaint – he is a Brahmin. They invented a new context – he represented Brahmanical hegemony and, according to them, vegetarian food is the “symbol of Brahmanical hegemony”.
“It’s a case of reverse discrimination. He was opposed because of his caste,” wrote Sreejit Panikkar, a political commentator.
Arun who used to work as a journalist flouting government service rules spearheaded the campaign. He has been the mouthpiece of Islamists in Kerala. Dr Fazal Ghafoor, a darling of the secularists, had once claimed how he manages to woo journalists to the Islamist side by throwing crumbs at them and the Leftist intellectuals suck up to them for money and other favors.
Incidentally, Arun practices vegetarianism at his house as his wife is a Brahmin. In an interview, Arun said although his children demand non-vegetarian food “a decision was not taken” whether to give them or not. “He’s a hypocrite. A person who is not ready to feed his kids non-vegetarian food wants to push down the throats of others’ children,” said senior journalist Shajan Scaria.
It is suspected that the halal lobby which is behind the campaign and individuals like Arun are their mouthpieces. “For the last 16 years, there was not even a single mishap with regard to food. But now with the halal lobby entering the scene, anything is possible,” said a journalist.
The exit of Namboothiri marks the end of a culinary tradition that believes in non-violence. Now it will be a playground of communalism, violence and blood, according to Ramasimhan (Ali Akbar).