As part of its measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus, the Thrissur district administration in Kerala has rehabilitated around 100 homeless people from the Guruvayur temple to various old age homes under the Guruvayur municipality.
These are mainly elderly people who have been living within the premises of the temple. â€śThey rely on the food that is ritually offered by the temple to all devotees, and sleep somewhere in the temple. From March 10, we stopped making these offerings amidst the coronavirus scare," Advocate KB Mohandas, Chairman of Guruvayur Devaswom, told TNM.
When the temple temporarily suspended this ritual, the homeless people were provided with food from neighbouring restaurants. However, since the number of devotees and visitors to the temple reduced, many restaurants closed. As a result, these people, who had taken refuge at the temple, were left without proper food.
The Guruvayur Devaswom Chairman apprised the Deputy Collector and other officials in the district administration of the matter. â€śThat is when they offered to give proper rehabilitation to these people,â€ť he added.
Women and Child Protection Council, Devaswom, health department and police have coordinated with each other to rehabilitate the homeless at the temple.
Among these, a few who migrated from Tamil Nadu and were living in the temple premises have returned home, said Mohandas. â€śThey were mainly staying here seeking alms. After the disease outbreak, they were given awareness and returned,â€ť he added.
The chairman also said that those who have been rehabilitated will not be allowed to live in the temple premises even after the COVID-19 restrictions have been removed.
"They can have food from the temple, but will not be allowed to seek alms or sleep within premises. They can live in the rehabilitation homes provided by the district administration till whenever they want," he added.
The Guruvayur temple has also decided to cut short the rituals of the temple festival and closed the Anakotta, the temple's elephant sanctuary, too. All cultural programmes associated with the festival have also been suspended.
The temple authorities also informed devotees to reduce the number of guests invited to the weddings and choroonu (feeding rice to a child for the first time) held at the temple.