Temple ‘purification’ after minister’s entry criticised


Guruvayoor (Kerala) : The Sri Krishna temple at Guruvayoor Sunday invited scathing criticism over the "purification" rituals it carried out at the premises a day earlier following the entry of union Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi's family to make an offering.

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Commenting on the 'punyaham' (purification rituals) held by the temple, Ravi told IANS: "I wanted my grandchild to get the blessings of Lord Guruvayurappa, that's why we went there. Now it seems the thantris (priests) decide on who would get the blessings of the lord."

Ravi and his family had gone to the temple to perform the 'annaprasan', or the ceremonial first rice feeding, of his six-month-old grandson Rajiv Krishna Saturday. Ravi's wife Mercy Ravi, a former Congress legislator in Kerala assembly, is a Christian by birth and the temple is closed to non-Hindus.

The temple chief priest Chenas Raman Namboodiripad ordered the purification rituals after Ravi's son Ravi Krishna failed to produce a certificate to prove he was a Hindu.

When the temple authorities insisted on the 'punyaham', it was conducted after collecting Rs.1,500 as charges from Ravi`s friend P.T. Mohana Krishnan.

Author and noted social critic Sukumar Azhikode said at a public function in Malappuram, "Things have come to a stage when that those who performed the purification rituals should first be purified and what happened at Guruvayur is not acceptable."

According to Vayalar Ravi: "Seventy five years ago there was a massive people's movement to get permission for the untouchables to enter the temple. None other than Mahatma Gandhi intervened and got them temple entry. Even at that time the priests tried to mobilise the upper castes to prevent the move. But it was in vain.

"Now the thantris are again trying to raise the question of who is a Hindu. The people of Kerala will give a reply."

Speaking to reporters earlier at Kochi, Ravi said: "I would like to know who has the right to say to my next generations that they have no right to enter a temple.

"This is not the correct step and let the people decide on who has the right to say that my next generations can't enter."

Six years ago, during the marriage of Ravi's son a similar purification was held because of the presence of Mercy. His marriage was solemnised according to the Ezhava rites and traditions.

The then chief priest justified his decision saying Ravi Krishna is not a Hindu as his mother Mercy Ravi is a Christian.

However, the school records of Ravi Krishna show that he is a Hindu and the Vayalar branch of the Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam has cleared his case as a Hindu.

Guruvayur Devaswom Board chairman Thottathil Ravindran said that changes in the temple rules should be made according to the changing times.

"We are helpless because the chief priest is the final authority in these matters. Let there be a public discussion on these issues," Ravindran told reporters.

Due to the purification rituals, all pujas to be held Saturday were cancelled and were being conducted Sunday.

Interestingly, Ravi Krishna's father-in-law M.P. Purushothaman, a Chennai-based businessman, had donated gold-sheeted doors to the temple that were fixed last year in a grand ceremony.