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No blood bath for Goddess: Kerala govt says ‘it is a disgrace, we will not allow it’

Kerala minister says attempt to revive a primitive ritual was a shame for the state that boasted of 100% literacy. Deviyode Srividwari Vidyanatha temple official reacted by saying, “the government is giving a wrong picture. At times the quantity of blood is less than what is drawn for lab tests.”

india Updated: Mar 08, 2018 10:09 IST
Ramesh Babu
Ramesh Babu
Hindustan Times, Thiruvananthapuram

The Kerala government has directed Thiruvananthapuram district collector and police chief to stop human-blood offering at a temple that has issued a notice asking devotees for the “donation”.

Administrators of the Deviyode Srividwari Vidyanatha temple in Vithura, 35km from the capital, recently announced that blood would be collected in syringes to bathe the idol of Goddess Kali, the temple deity, during the annual Kaliyootu festival.

“It is a disgrace. We will not allow this to happen,” temple affairs minister Kadakampally Surendran said on Wednesday, adding attempts to revive a primitive ritual were a shame for the state that boasted of 100% literacy.

The temple authorities said it was an age-old ritual and the government was painting a wrong picture.

This is the second time in less than 10 days that a controversy has erupted over a temple ritual in the Left-ruled Kerala, which is often called God’s own country.

The schedule of the festival, which begins March 11, has been doing the rounds on social media, triggering a debate.

Qualified doctors and para-medical staff would make the collection using disposable syringes, the notice says.

The event had the backing of some communal organisations, Surendran said, warning people against walking into their trap. “There are many complaints against the temple. We will take strict action against the temple committee members if the ritual takes place,” he wrote in a Facebook post.

A temple official, who did not want to be identified, said it was a symbolic ritual, with many devotees donating just a drop of blood.

“The government is giving a wrong picture that devotees are forced to shed their blood. At times the quantity of blood is less than what is drawn for lab tests,” he said.

The temple is situated near a forest and many tribals take part in the annual festival.

Last week, the state’s director general of police (prisons) R Sreelekha had sought a ban on young boys performing kuthiyottam during Pongal festivities at Thiruvananthapuram’s Attukal Devi temple.

Calling the ritual, which involves piercing of a metallic hook on children’s sides after five days of penance, a torture, the officer said the customs was a punishable offence.

The state government had asked the officer to explain her blog post.

First Published: Mar 08, 2018 10:06 IST