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Need a lawyer? Litigants in Kerala go to ‘Judge Uncle’ temple praying for a miracle

The ‘judge’ in this case is the presiding deity of a small shrine located at the corner of the Cheruvally Sree Devi temple of Kottayam with a growing reputation of helping people out of a legal mess.

india Updated: Jul 29, 2017 08:46 IST
Ramesh Babu
Ramesh Babu
Hindustan Times, Kottayam (Kerala)
Kerala,Kerala temple,Judge Uncle
People pray at the Cheruvally Sree Bhagavathy Temple in Kottayam district.

Neck-deep in legal trouble, a mining baron from Bellary from Karnataka has finally decided to knock on the doors of the ‘Judge Uncle’ in neighbouring Kerala’s Kottayam district.

The judge in this case is the presiding deity of a small shrine located at the corner of the Cheruvally Sree Devi temple of Kottayam with an ever growing reputation of helping people wriggle out of legal mess.

The belief is Judge Ammavan (Uncle) does not disappoint and the mining baron mired in legal cases has made the trip to the temple to make a special offering.

Those who throng the temple are controversial figures and to give them anonymity, the shrine opens just for 15 minutes and that too only in the night, after the main Cheruvally temple closes after evening prayers.

Visitors at the temple are the veritable who’s who of south India: Malayalam actor Dileep is in jail for his alleged involvement in the abduction and sexual assault of a top actress and his brother Anoop was at the temple to offer special prayers on his behalf.

P Gopalakrishnan, the president of the Travancore Dewasom Board that administers the famous hill shrine at Sabarimala was also here last November when a petition challenging its age-old tradition of not allowing women into the temple was being heard at the Supreme Court.

The top court is yet to give its ruling on whether to allow women into Sabarimala, but devotees of ‘Judge Uncle’ believe his blessings are a sure shot way to salvation. The Bellary baron is facing a myriad of court cases including some relating to mine lease violations.

“One of my cases will come up before the court soon and my astrologer advised me to visit the Judge Uncle,” he said on the condition of anonymity.

According to folklore, the temple has its roots in 18th century when the erstwhile kingdom of Travancore had a judge named Govinda Pillai who was known for his impartial judgments. Once, his nephew was involved in a criminal case and Pillai ordered his execution. Later, evidence surfaced about the nephew’s innocence.

Pillai was filled with remorse and he approached the king, requesting that he be punished for his erroneous judgment. The king said the judge must decide his own punishment, following which Pillai ordered his own execution. He also ruled that his body be exhibited at a public place for three days.

Pillai’s commitment to justice moved many and the people later built a temple to “give eternal peace to his soul”. The case diary with Pillai’s own observations on Palmira leaves ordering his execution serves as the deity of the temple.

“People from faraway places come here. And many believers request the temple to keep their identity confidential,” said temple manager Gopinathan Nair.

“People involved in minor disputes to major crimes come here with lot of hope,” said Deva Narayanan, a retired government employee. The Bellary mining baron currently doing the rounds of the temple happens to be just one of them.

First Published: Jul 29, 2017 07:21 IST