Kuthiyottam ritual at Attukal Bhagavathy Temple, Thiruvananthapuram

Kuthiyottam ritual at Attukal Bhagavathy Temple, Thiruvananthapuram…

The Kerala State Human Rights Commission’s (KSHRC) opinion regarding the ‘Kuthiyottam’ ritual performed at Attukal Bhagavathy Temple has sparked a controversy with the Temple Trust and Hindu factions stating that it was an age old ritual and there was no harassment of the children as alleged.

The KSHRC had opined on Thursday that the government should decide if Kuthiyottam should be continued if it was becoming a harassment to the children. Observing that any age old ritual, if harmful to children, should be stopped, the Commission had asked the government to look into whether the ritual was affecting the children physically and mentally. It should also see if the health of the children is affected because of Kuthiyottam.

Reacting to the issue, Hindu Aikya Vedi general secretary Kummanam Rajasekharan said that the children were performing the ritual by their own conviction and were not forced. ‘’It is a ritual that is performed with all penance. It is a rebirth for the children culturally and also spiritually,’’ he said.

Attukal Bhagavathy Temple Trust secretary M S Jyotish Kumar also said that the children take part in the ritual only after after the parents sign an affidavit. No one is being forced to perform the ritual, he added.

Pointing out that it was a ritual that was being performed for a very long time, he said that the Trust had already given all the documents to the Commission. The Trust hopes that a secular government under Oommen Chandy would never come up with restrictions on the rituals.

When contacted, Dr Muraleedharan, who submitted the petition in this regard before the KSHRC, alleged that the children participating in Kuthiyottam are mentally and physically harassed. He also said that piercing the body of the children with the iron wire cannot be called as a ritual but only superstitious. Muraleedharan claimed that every year more than 10 children who participated in Kuthiyottam come to his clinic for treatment of infection caused by the iron wire and other issues. A member of the Amnesty International, he said that the government or the Trust should take a wise decision in this regard.

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