In the bylanes of Mattancherry, Kerala, everyday at 12:15 pm, the bird crier stands in the middle of the grounds behind the Shree Cochin Swetamber Murtipujak Jain temple, and calls to the doves, “Kabutur, aaoo, aaoo.” The doves respond in three mystical gyrations around the gopurams of the temple. This flying around the gopurams perfectly synchronises with the concluding prayer chants by the devotees and as the chants conclude the doves, maybe a thousand, two thousand, descend and settle on the concrete ground. They are fed grains and pulses by the Jain devotees and the few tourists that come to see the show. As is the tenets of the Jain religion the devotees try not to hurt anyone even the smallest of ants following the path of live and let live. Interestingly this 110-year-old temple belongs to the Svetambara sect (literally, 'white clad') of the Jains in Kerala who are mostly migrants from Gujarat.
The fact that a minority status has been awarded to the Jains of India is welcomed in a subdued manner by the Jain community in Kerala. The migrants are mostly from Gujarat and belong to the Svetambara sect while the local Malayalees fall into the Digambara sect (literally, "sky-clad"). Prominent among the latter is Veerandra Kumar, chairman of newspaper Mathrubhoomi and former MP of the Lok sabha. He says, “The demand for minority status has been there for a long time and finally justice has been done. It is not for any benefits that we Jains have demanded this status but the fact is that we are separate religion, pre-Vedic religion, and we are minority in number.” Pravin Shah, the president of the Jain temple at Mattancherry adds, “The other minority religions like Muslims, Christians, Sikhs have a much larger population than us. I think this is blessing for us.”