Read More Atheist Republic Litmus’ 22, an annual gathering of atheists, took place in Kerala, India, on October 2. Thousands of atheists and freethinkers from across the state met up with each other at the Rajiv Gandhi indoor stadium in Kadavanthra, Ernakulam, on the third edition of the event. The gathering of over 10,000 attendees, many of whom participated in various types of discourse, saw debates and presentations.
10,000 people are expected to attend Litmus 22, one of the world’s largest ever gatherings of atheists and rationalists.https://t.co/gqoWSWABj4
— Richard Dawkins (@RichardDawkins) September 25, 2022
The event was promoted with the tagline, “the world’s biggest atheist meet in ‘god’s own country,'” by the event organizers, esSENSE Global. The organization is a group of “freethinkers with a scientific temperament.”
The first time the event was held was back in 2018 in Thiruvananthapuram, and in 2019, it was held in Kozhikode. Finally, the third event took place in Ernakulam after a gap of two years due to the covid-19 pandemic.
The event attendees had several activists, writers, critics, and scientists. Many learned individuals indulged in debates on broad topics such as atheism, religion, casteism, Hindutva, and politics in Islam. Many of the speakers are famous and have a strong social media presence. The audience was also enthusiastic about their presentations.
In one of his speeches, one of the founding members of esSENSE Global, C Ravichandran, compared god to a fictional character, stating that god is an imaginary creation. He even compared god to a fictional character like Harry Potter, the titular protagonist from the series of books by J.K. Rowling.
Askar Ali, an apostate of Islam, centered his speech on “Insha Allah.” Ali had left Islam after he was allegedly harassed in Islamic religious study centers.
Another such presentation was by Arif Hussain Theruvath. Theruvath debated on topics such as “is religious education necessary?”. Theruvath said, “We were highlighting the problems caused by religious education and were putting forward the idea that it was not needed. The counter argument was that it was needed, and only then can morality and goodness can be cultivated. Morality and goodness did not come from religion, but it was achieved by humans through various ethical principles. Religion hijacked this and claimed monopoly over it.”
Other speakers also gave presentations on various lifestyle and scientific topics, such as herbal medicine and rocket science. Among the speakers were Jose Kureekkal, Beena Rani, Krishna Prasad, Baiju Raj, Abi Phil, Rehna M, Abhilash Krishnan, Parveen Ravi, Augustus Morris, Manuja Maithri, Jhanvi Sanal, CS Sooraj, and Tomy Sebastian.
One of the organizers, Tomy Sebastian, said that the number of attendees has rapidly increased since the first event. Sebastian said, “When we organized the event for the first time in 2018, around 4,000 participants attended. In 2019, it doubled and became 8,000. It is being held again after the two-year gap caused by the pandemic, and this year we were expecting 10,000, and the total number is way more than that,”
The meet and especially one of the organizers, C Ravichandran, have been a target of criticism by many in the country. Many critics see Ravichandran as a Sangh Parivar apologist, as many activists noted that he frequently criticizes Islam but hardly ever criticizes the Hindutva movement. A video of Ravichandran went viral in which he says that one should only fear Islam and Communism.