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Kerala child rights body registers case against Kuthiyottam ritual

Minor boys are part of the Kuthiyottam ritual, held during Pongala festivities, which involves piercing of their bodies.

india Updated: Mar 01, 2018 23:32 IST
Ramesh Babu
Ramesh Babu
Hindustan Times, Thiruvananthapuram
Pongala,Attukal temple,Kuthiyottam ritual
The Attukal temple officials defended the custom, saying that a few people were whipping up ‘unnecessary controversies’.(Alamy Photos)

The Kerala child rights body on Wednesday registered a suo motu case against Attukal temple’s annual Kuthiyottam ritual, which involves minors being pierced, during Pongala festivities and said it would examine if children’s rights were violated during the practice.

Issuing a statement, the state’s Commission for Protection of Child Rights asked the government to depute a senior officer to collect details regarding the ritual and submit a report.

Kerala Director of General of Police (Prisons) R Sreelekha, the state’s first woman top cop, had raised concerns against the ritual in her blog, stating that boys as young as five years old were made a part of the ‘gruelling’ ritual.

“An iron hook, tiny though, will be pierced into the skin on their flanks. They scream and blood comes out. A thread will be symbolically knotted through the hooks to symbolise their bond and divinity. The hooks are pulled out and ash is applied on the wounds. All this for the temple deity,” the DGP wrote and compared the boys who take part in the ritual to the goats that are sacrificed at Guwahati Kamakhya temple as on offering to the deity.

Writer Paul Zacharia came out in support of the DGP, stating that she had taken the right stand despite the government remaining silent on the issue. “I salute DGP Sreelekha for pointing out the cruelty of this so-called
religious practice. The government and the mainstream media have gone into silence. They do not dare to stand up for the rights of these children because a so-called popular temple is involved,” he said.

However, the temple officials defended the custom, saying that a few people were whipping up “unnecessary controversies”.

“We dismiss the concern raised by some people. It (the ritual) has been going on for ages. These children came to us voluntarily,” temple trust secretary K Sisupalan Nair said.

The Pongala festival will be held on Friday at Thiruvananthapuram’s Attukal temple. Often called women’s
Sabarimala, the festival has figured in the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest gathering of women during a function.

First Published: Mar 01, 2018 23:22 IST