This time, it’s not Anbumani Ramadoss. The authorities of the Guruvayur Sri Krishna Temple, the second richest in the country, have suspended four keezh santhis (assistant priests) after a cigarette butt was found in the prasad (offering).
But the episode hasn’t been stubbed out. In response to the suspension, a section of the temple employees, mainly assistant priests, resorted to a ‘go-slow’ agitation delaying daily rituals.
The Guruvayur Devasom Board took action after a devotee complained that he found a cigarette butt in the ney appam (a sweet offering) that he had bought from the temple a few days ago. A show-cause notice to the temple’s deputy administrator P. Ashok Kumar has been issued and the licence of the supplier of raw materials for offerings has also been suspended.
Purification rites were performed at the temple after the discovery of the stub. All the rituals of the last three days were repeated and special rites were performed to make amends for the lapse.
A couple of years ago, a similar incident was reported at the Sabarimala shrine when a devotee found the tail of a shrew in the aravana payasam (special kheer). Despite several inquiries, no one was found guilty. Guruvayur doesn’t want to be a Sabarimala.
“We are planning a high-level probe into this,” said Guruvayur Devasom Board chairman Thottathil Ravindran. He added that the agitating priests can’t hold the temple to ransom. “We are duty-bound to protect the interests of millions of devotees.”