‘How can you justify cruelty towards kids?’ asks Kerala woman DGP

Kerala DGP, R Sreelekha, has called for an end to the age-old practice of minors performing rigorous rituals during Pongala festival.

india Updated: Mar 01, 2018 23:30 IST
Hindustan Times
Pongala,Attukal temple,Kuthiyottam ritual
Kerala Director of General of Police (Prisons) R Sreelekha.(HT Photo)

Kerala director general of police R Sreelekha, who a few days ago had called for an end to the age-old practice of minors performing rigorous rituals during Pongala festival, told Ramesh Babu in an interview that ‘cruelty’ against children cannot be justified in the name of age-old religious customs. Excerpts:

Q: Temple officials and even government officers have defended Kuthiyottam. Do you still seek a ban against the custom?

A: No doubt. I stick to what I had said in my blog. It has to be stopped. How can you justify cruelty towards little kids in the name of a custom? I am an ardent devotee of the presiding deity, Attukal Amma, and I have been offering pongala since I was ten years old. But I strongly believe that such a ritual should be discontinued. While insisting for its continuation, I feel one is doing a disservice to the deity.

Q:You’ve been offering pongala all these years. Why are you voicing your concerns against the ritual now?

A: I was not aware of the details of Kuthiyottam rituals. I thought it was a symbolic offering. Last year, when my security officer’s son went through the rigorous customs, I got to know about the details. I was stunned. Most women who do pongala are not aware of the piercing and other rituals. I talked to many people about this but they were not willing to take it up. So, I thought I should raise the issue.

Q: Do you think the devotees will agree with your suggestion and help end the ritual?

A: Sure. You cannot take such issues emotionally and religiously. I am a staunch devotee of the presiding deity but I thought that unless you question such customs it will continue. I feel customs have to change with the times.

First Published: Mar 01, 2018 23:30 IST