The statue of a mother and a child outside Kerala’s Sree Avittom Thirunal hospital in Thiruvananthapuram is the stuff of legend. Installed a few years ago by an artiste, the statue has attained the status of a god, and families of patients at the SAT hospital and bystanders alike have been lighting candles and agarbattis at the ‘shrine’ for years.
But now, the SAT hospital administration has ordered a ban on the worship of the statue.
SAT hospital is a government institute that provides healthcare for pregnant women and children. The hospital is located in the vast campus of the Medical College Hospital.
The Government Medical College Hospital Superintendent MH Sharmad has issued a directive banning the worship of the statue, a piece of art created by noted artist Aryanad Rajendran. The order is against the backdrop that the worship by some patients and their bystanders near the statue led to traffic congestion, and that their ‘faith’ was misused by con artistes.
“Some people had even kept a tin there. Those who came to pray before the statue used to put money in that tin, and later, the con artistes used to take away the money in it. The anti-social elements began to exploit the innocence and naivete of certain people,” Sharmad told TNM.
“They even began to collect money by making a disabled man sit near the statue to beg for alms, and later took the money from him,” Sharmad said.
“Prayers were being offered by some people at a time of crisis. But the statue was not created as a deity for worship,” he added.
The decision to ban the worship was taken after the weekly cleaning assessment last week. The fact that the hospital oxygen plant and casualty ward are situated near the statue also prompted the authorities to come out with the ban. A board with the banning order was put near the statue two days ago.
“It was created by artist Aryanad Rajendran as a part of beautification. Lighting of agarbattis and candles and creating congestion near it by a gathering of people have strictly been banned as oxygen plant and casualty are situated near the statue,” the board says.
“Vehicles rushing to the medical college casualty as well as to SAT are passing through it. Also, since the statue is near the SAT entrance, the movement of people near it so huge. When people gather near the statue, we fear that it may cause accidents. It is a floating population and we are trying to convince them on the issues related to the worship,” Sharmad said.
The sculpture was made by Aryanad Rajendran, who had worked as a modeler in the anatomy department of the medical college in 1990. The artist had earlier told TNM that he had created the sculpture as a work that would be ease the tensed moments of the patients and bystanders, and never thought it would get a divine image some day