The Kerala High Court on Tuesday stopped a Kerala temple from going ahead with a controversial ritual involving young boys, which was to be performed onFebruary 22. The ritual is usually held at the Chettikulangara temple in Alappuzha. The court also made it clear that strict action will be taken if anybody is found defying the order. The court pronounced its verdict on Tuesday and the High Court upheld the ban imposed by the Kerala State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (KeSCPCR).
The court further posted the case for hearing after three days as the temple authorities have asked for time to gather more information. The High Court has already heard the case four times last week.
Speaking to TNM, the Chettikulangara Devi temple authorities maintained that they respect the court’s order and have strictly ordered devotees to abstain from the ritual on Feb 22.
“We will adhere to the order of the court. We have asked our devotees to strictly follow the court’s order. We don’t organize the ritual here. It is mostly done in houses and they come to the temple to remove the golden twine,” said the temple authorities.
Chooral Muriyal is a controversial ritual which involves young boys and has been practiced in the state for decades now. The ritual is performed at the Chettikulangara Devi Temple in Alappuzha district during its annual ‘bharani’ festival. Chooral Muriyal is also part of a larger festival called ‘Kuttiyattam’.
In the ritual a thin golden twine is inserted through the boys’ skin, near the waist, and is then tied to their neck. The boys are then made to dance with elaborate steps in front of the deity. The golden twine is later offered to the goddess Badrakali.
The ritual was banned in 2016 as well and recently the court after checking the videos submitted by Kerala State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (KeSCPCR) upheld its 2016 ban.
On February 12, the court had disposed of a petition by the Sreedevi Vilasam Hindumatha Convention, a devotee outfit, which claimed that the ritual did not harm the children. A few parents had also come forward saying that they make their children participate in the ritual at will and the kids were not harmed in any manner.
Despite the court order and warnings from the government and temple authorities reports had come of the devotees preparing 24 children for the ritual which was to be perfumed on February 22.