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SC panel torn between law and faith

india Updated: Aug 13, 2011 01:43 IST
Ramesh Babu

Purported signs of bad omen combined with issues of faith have put the Kerala government and the Supreme Court-appointed panel in a quandary as to whether they should open the Sri Padmanabha Swamy temple’s sixth chamber.

The elaborate ‘deva prasnam’ (an astrological ritual to “gauge the mood” of the presiding deity), which concluded on Thursday, warned of serious consequences if it was opened.

The vault is supposedly lying closed for 136 years.

What emerged out of the ‘deva prasnam’ was that since the vault is situated just below the presiding deity, any harm or displacement to it will amount to disrespect for Lord Padmanabha Swamy.

Chief minister Oommen Chandy has assured devotees their sentiments would be given priority while taking any decision. “The government will inform the court about the prevailing sentiments of devotees,” he said.

The theory of supernatural intervention was strengthened when carvings of black serpents, which according to some religious traditions bring bad luck, were found on the doors of the cellar.

The Travancore royal family, which manages the temple, is equally worried because it has been warned that if “rectification” measures are not taken, it will be left without a heir.

Madhur Narayana Rangabhattu, the chief astrologer, has given the details of the ritual to the royal family, which was always opposed to the opening of the vaults. It had told the SC the step might trigger unpleasant incidents.

However, petitioner TP Sunderarajan, who died last month, opposed it, saying it was a ploy to delay the inventory.