If social media posts are to be believed, the 2018 flood fury in Kerala, was a divine response to allowing women of all ages into the temple, breaking a centuries-old tradition.
FIRST CHECK DESK
In 2018, the southern Indian state of Kerala faced devastating floods as storm accompanied by heavy rains lashed the state between 15 and 17 August of that year. The numbers that the state saw in terms of the rains and devastation are staggering. Apart from the torrential rains and flooding the state saw landslides with the hilly regions of Idukki and Wayanad were isolated, as a result. As a result of this natural calamity, the Cochin International airport, India’s fourth busiest in terms of traffic, was closed for nearly ten days putting many millions to inconvenience and resulting in loss of business for many as well.
It is not difficult to see why this kind of sudden storms accompanied by floods. It can be easily understood that these kind of extreme weather events occur in the first place – it is a direct fallout of climate change factors like indiscriminate deforestation, global warming, etc. But, as is apparent from some absurd narratives on social media, not everyone believes that these unusual upheavals in nature is caused by climate change. If these narratives are to be believed, these floods were a direct fallout of women entering the precincts of the Sabarimala Temple in the state – something that has been out of bound for women for centuries.
One such video, that has garnered nearly a million views, by a devotional singer in Tamil says: “These floods we can take it this way also, it is a caution from Ayyappan. With this kind of caution from God himself, no women will ever attempt to go to the temple. Through this, Lord Ayyappan has not only barred ladies from visiting the temple, but also barred men from coming this year. That is the caution we need to heed.”
Another Telugu video , that has more than two thousand views, says, “Kerala insulted Lord Ayyappan, and that’s why the state is facing severe floods. This is done by nature. What is nature? It is God.”
A Facebook post , in Malayalam, with more than 600 engagements, shared along with the visuals of flooded Sabarimala Temple says, “Stunning views of Sabarimala due to heavy rains. Sadly Kerala is sinking. Kerala has been devastated ever since the drama of women’s entry into the Ayyappaswamy Temple began.”
As we all know, the reason is not this at all. The Government’s own report on this natural calamity, detailed the following points as the reason for these floods. The reasons are:
1. “The storm was so severe that the gates of 35 dams were opened to release the flood runoff. All 5 overflow gates of the Idukki Dam were opened, for the first time in 26 years. Heavy rains in Wayanad and Idukki caused severe landslides and left the hilly districts isolated”
2. “As per IMD data, Kerala received 2346.6 mm of rainfall from 1 June 2018 to 19 August 2018 in contrast to an expected 1649.5 mm of rainfall. This rainfall was about 42% above the normal”
3. “As per the rainfall records of Indian Meteorological Department, it has been found that the rainfall depths recorded during the 15-17, August 2018 were comparable to the severe storm that occurred in the year 1924.”
4. “During 15-17, August 2018, the 3-day rainfall depths realised in Periyar, Pamba, Chalakudi and Bharathapuzha sub-basins were 588 mm, 538 mm, 421 mm and 373 mm respectively and these depths are of the same order as that of 1924 rainfall.”
(Excerpts from “Study Report: Kerala Floods of August 2018” by Hydrological Studies Organization, Hydrology (S) Directorate, Central Water Commission, Government of India)
So, as the report suggests, an unprecedented volume of rains descended on the state of Kerala, in a short period making it a big challenge to sustain normal life during the storm and the floods. This was likely a direct fallout of climate change factors sweeping the Indian subcontinent.