DGP de­mands end to ‘rig­or­ous’ cus­tom for boys at Ker­ala shrine

Hindustan Times (Gurugram) - - Nation - Ramesh Babu let­ters@hin­dus­tan­times.com

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Ker­ala di­rec­tor gen­eral of po­lice R Sreelekha on Tues­day called for an end to the age-old prac­tice of boys aged be­tween 5 and 12 per­form­ing rig­or­ous rit­u­als called ‘kuthiy­ot­tam’ dur­ing the an­nual Pon­gala fes­tiv­i­ties at the At­tukal Devi tem­ple in the state cap­i­tal.

Of­ten called women’s Sabari­mala, Pon­gala has found a place in the Guinness Book of World Records as “the largest gath­er­ing of women” based on the 2.5 mil­lion turnout in 2009. Kuthiy­ot­tam is a rit­ual per­formed by young boys af­ter ob­serv­ing a seven-day ‘vritham’, or pe­nance.

The DGP in charge of pris­ons wrote in her blog that the rit­ual in­volv­ing chil­dren should be stopped as the prac­tice in­cludes boys be­ing “made to wear just a loin­cloth, sub­merge in cold wa­ter thrice daily, eat measly morsels squat­ting on the floor, and sleep on the bare tem­ple ground”.

They are not al­lowed to meet their par­ents dur­ing the time and on the fi­nal day each of them wear yel­low cloths, gar­lands, jew­ellery and make-up, in­clud­ing lip­stick, and made to stand in a queue for their “last un­ex­pected tor­ture”, she said.

“An iron hook, tiny though it is, will be pierced into their skin on their flanks. They scream. Blood comes out. A thread will be sym­bol­i­cally knot­ted through the hooks to sym­bol­ise their bond with di­vin­ity. Then the hooks are pulled out and ash roughly ap­plied on the wounds! All this for the tem­ple de­ity!” she wrote.

Sreelekha com­pared the boys with goats to be sac­ri­ficed at Guwa­hati’s Ka­maakhya tem­ple. “All the boys in wet loin­cloths bore the same look of the sac­ri­fi­cial goats of Ka­makhya,” she said. The com­ments from the state’s first woman IPS of­fi­cer came ahead of this year’s Pon­gala fes­tiv­i­ties, which be­gin in the tem­ple on March 2.

The tem­ple au­thor­i­ties re­jected the charges and said no one is be­ing forced by the shrine to par­tic­i­pate in the rit­ual.

“We are not forc­ing any­body and it is only a rit­ual. It is un­be­com­ing of a DGP-rank of­fi­cer to come out with a mis­lead­ing state­ment, es­pe­cially at a time the an­nual fes­ti­val is on,” V Chan­drasekhara Pil­lai, chair­man of the At­tukal Bha­gawathy Tem­ple Trust, told PTI.

He said there is a Ker­ala high court direc­tive that none should in­ter­fere in the tem­ple’s rit­u­als and cus­toms.

At­tukal Devi tem­ple

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.