The administration of a Kerala temple has drawn flak from the state government after the temple sought human blood ‘donations’ as an offering to the deity.
Deviyodu Sreevidvari Vaidyanatha temple in Vithura in rural Thiruvananthapuram recently put out a notice announcing Kaliyoottu Maholsavam, a temple festival. As part of the festival, rakthabhishekam, a ritual wherein the deity is bathed in blood, was scheduled to be held.
As part of the 14-day festival that is set to begin on March 11, Kaali, the presiding deity, will be bathed in blood, the notice announced. Further, the notice said that the temple would accept human blood for the purpose. The notice also said that government recognised doctors will collect a negligible quantity of blood in disposable syringes.
However, the Kerala government has strictly directed the temple authorities to abstain from performing the ritual. Slamming the “primitive practice” of making blood donations to the deity, Kerala’s Devaswom Minister, Kadakampally Surendran, said that he had directed the police and the district collector to take action against people who are involved in the practice.
In a Facebook post, Minister Surendran said that it was a shame for Kerala that such primitive practices are being brought back.
“This practice is trying to make a comeback in a state like Kerala that has long ago shed primitive practices like human and animal sacrifice,” the minister wrote.
He said that “certain communal forces” were giving support to such primitive rituals and that Kerala, as a society, irrespective of one’s religion, caste and political affiliation, must resist the move to bring back superstitious practices.
Speaking to TNM, Thiruvananthapuram Rural SP Ashok Kumar said that the police have given a strict directive to the temple authorities not to go ahead with the ritual.
“We haven’t registered any case in the matter, but have warned the temple authorities against performing the ritual. It is completely illegal and if they go ahead with it despite our orders, we will take action against them,” the SP said.
Sub-Inspector of Vithura police station, under whose jurisdiction the temple is located, told TNM that this was the first time that the temple authorities had sought human blood donations.
“It is a small temple, generally they mix turmeric and slaked lime to make a liquid that is bright red in colour. They normally use that water for the rakthabhishekam. When we spoke to them, they claimed that they meant to draw only negligible amount of blood from the devotees. Whatever it may be, the ritual will not be conducted now,” the SI said.
This incident has come at a time when several temple rituals, including Chooral Muriyal performed at Chettukulangara temple in Alappuzha and Kuthiyottam at the Attukal temple in Thiruvananthapuram, are being criticised for causing harm to the minor boy children involved.