A 2-minute long clip is circulating widely on social media as a video from the ‘Yedurappa’ temple in Kerala where devotees can be seen singing praises to Allah. The voice-over in the clip alleges that this is a consequence of a government policy, which, in the name of secularism, promotes appointment of Muslims and Christians to the posts of priests without them having any knowledge of the Vedas.

Sharing this clip a Twitter user wrote in Hindi, “Consequences of appointments of Muslims and Christians to the posts of ‘temple priests’ by the Congress-backed government in Kerala”.

This clip has been circulating for many years on social media. The following table shows a list of high-network Facebook pages that have shared this video in the past.

Group NameFollowersURL
Rss # कार्यकर्ता66979https://www.facebook.com/groups/180940386855395/permalink/337617764520989
भाजपा लक्ष्य 2024 ( समर्थन के लिए जुड़े )994766https://www.facebook.com/groups/401488093969265/permalink/1128624587922275
राष्ट्रप्रथम 🚩🚩🚩48453https://www.facebook.com/groups/3026959987371352/permalink/4594763047257697
हिंदुत्ववादी राज्य!14083https://www.facebook.com/groups/665677497302848/permalink/1111729989364261
Shri Rajiv Dixit Followers10722https://www.facebook.com/groups/1932991693668789/permalink/2742014309433186
एक कोटी भाजपा समर्थक84367https://www.facebook.com/groups/393919734619185/permalink/917791738898646
आचार्य प्रशांत - Acharya Prashant - Fan Club19446https://www.facebook.com/groups/234249111400715/permalink/456054812553476
🚩🚩आल इंडिया ब्राह्मण समाज🚩🚩19510https://www.facebook.com/groups/635225267054791/permalink/1022488831661764
फिर एक बार योगी सारकार ( इस बार 350 पार )133722https://www.facebook.com/groups/128525822111952/permalink/339543461010186
Hindu Ekta218726https://www.facebook.com/groups/412166019205453/permalink/1376339406121438
Barodians in Facebook - VADODARA41581https://www.facebook.com/groups/17599356888/permalink/10158213282211889
jai bajrangbali ji365094https://www.facebook.com/groups/480895756441949/permalink/636920924172764
भाजपा महाराष्ट्र31175https://www.facebook.com/groups/2711141099211084/permalink/3199901730335016
Hindu (official)17154https://www.facebook.com/groups/166539280222545/permalink/1872198659656590
प्रधानमंत्री नरेंद्र मोदी11550https://www.facebook.com/groups/847905059332043/permalink/1045537659568781
SANATANA BRAHMINS19522https://www.facebook.com/groups/1528343207290780/permalink/3542395232552224
KADVA SACH26526https://www.facebook.com/groups/435704259797816/permalink/5034328606602002
GURU JI CHARAN 👣👣 DUKH HARAN212085https://www.facebook.com/groups/218857911601267/permalink/2297368153750222

Alt News has also received multiple requests to verify this claim on its WhatsApp helpline number (+91 7600011160) and mobile app.

Fact Check

Looking at the video, we noticed that men are wearing black cloth around their waist. This is generally worn by the devotees of the Hindu god Ayyappa. [View images on GettyImages]

Taking note of this, we performed a Google search and came across a video on YouTube posted in 2019 by the channel ‘SBR news1 SBR news1’.

On hearing closely, one can figure out that the devotees are saying “La Ilaha Illallah, Vavar Mohammad Rasulullah”. In fact, the speakers refer to a certain ‘Vavar Swamy’ multiple times. On the Sabarimala website, we found that Vavar was a Muslim saint who became a devotee of Lord Ayyappa.

An article by The Economic Times published in 2015 notes that devotees making a pilgrimage to Sabarimala Ayyappa temple make a visit to Erumeli situated about 60 kilometres from the Sabarimala temple. The devotees visit the Vavar mosque there. “They circulate around the mosque and chant the names of Ayyappa as well as Vavar, a Muslim saint who is also referred to as Vavarswami by the Hindu devotees,” the article says.

Alt News performed an additional keyword search on YouTube and came across a video titled, “Thirumala thirupathiloo song by pedana Balaji swami Ayyappa swami devotional songs Telugu”. The man featured in this video is similar to the man seen in the viral clip.

The description suggests that the individual singing these devotional songs is Balaji Swami and the songs being sung are in Telugu as suggested by the title of the video. Balaji Swami also has a personal YouTube account where he regularly uploads videos of his singing.

Speaking to Alt News, Balaji Swami confirmed that the song in the video was indeed in relation to Lord Ayyappa and Vavar Swami. Balaji said that he sang the song at Eluru (Andhra Pradesh) amongst a gathering of Ayyappa devotees before their pilgrimage to Sabarimala a few years ago.

“Pilgrims to Ayyappa often participate in these gatherings where 18 steps are constructed the symbolizing 18 hills of Sabarimala, and sing devotional songs. Because Vavar Swami is an integral part of this pilgrimage, I sang the lines on being prodded by other devotees, only with the intention of raising the ‘Hindu – Muslim bhai bhai’ sentiments,” he added.

Balaji also told Alt News that since the controversy, he has been careful about his choice of songs. He said he hasd done the pilgrimage to Ayyappa 23 times in total. In 2021, speaking to India Today about the viral video, he had confirmed that the viral video had been shot at Chalasani Gardens, which is in Eluru, Andhra Pradesh. He also told the outlet that the viral clip was from 2017.

No Evidence to Suggest Muslims and Christians are Appointed as Priests

As far as the appointment of Muslim and Christian priests in temples is concerned, Alt News could not find any news report confirming this piece of information.

According to The Indian Express, Kerala has temples that are managed by state-run temple boards, private temple boards, or by community organizations. There are five state-run autonomous Devaswom (temple) boards, which manage 3,058 temples in the state. These are Travancore Devaswom Board, Cochin Devaswom Board, Malabar Devaswom Board, Guruvayur Devaswom Board and Koodalmanikyam board. The list of the boards can be found here.

The report says that the role of the boards includes administration of the temples, management of temple properties and ensuring facilities and infrastructure for devotees. It also says that the staff, including priests, are recruited by the respective boards.

In 2017, The Times of India reported that the Travancore Devaswom (Temple) Recruitment Board created history by including six Dalit priests in the list of recruits which had 36 people from non-Brahmin communities. Later in 2020, the same board also appointed an ST priest, but there is no report of a Muslim or a Christian being recruited.

To sum it up, a video of Ayyappa devotees in Andhra Pradesh singing praises of Vavar Swami, a Muslim associate of Lord Ayyappa, was shared with false communal claim that Muslim and Christian priests were being appointed in temples in Kerala as per a government policy.

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About the Author

Kalim is a journalist with a keen interest in tech, misinformation, culture, etc