Kerala High Court has ruled that Chooral Muriyal, a controversial ritual involving skin piercing of young boys, will not be performed at Chettikulangara temple in Alappuzha district.
Upholding the ban imposed by the Kerala State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (KeSCPCR), the Court said that strict action will be taken if anybody is found defying the order.
The HC’s response came on two separate pleas; one seeking to penalise those who defy the ban and the other challenging the ban on the grounds that children participate of their own will and the practise causes no harm.
Toeing the Court’s order, the temple also gave an undertaking that the ritual will not be performed this year.
“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,” temple authorities told The News Minute
What is Chooral Muriyal
‘Chooral Muriyal‘, according to the Indian Express, is a part of the larger ‘kuttiyattam’, a unique offering that devotees make to Goddess Bhadrakali, the main deity of the temple during annual ‘bharani’ festival. The name comes from Chooral (cane), as cane threads were used earlier and muri (cut).
Believed to be two-and-a-half-century-old, this ritual is said to have started by a king who offered blood sacrifice to appease Goddess Kali.
However, the practise was toned down over time.
As part of the festivity, those who vow to offer Kuthiyottam adopt two or four pre-pubescent boys for a fee , who are then symbolically used for human sacrifice.
A cruel and regressive practise
Under the ritual, the children are adopted on Shivratri and taken care for the next 7-10 days till the festival ends. They are taught elaborate dance steps and songs which describe in great detail the demon-slaying deeds of the goddess.
On the day of Bharani, the ritual is performed which involves insertion of a golden coil through one end of the boy’s waist, just beneath the surface, which is then taken out through the other end and tied around his neck. The boys are then taken in a procession and they dance with elaborate steps in front of the deity post which are offered to the goddess.
Here’s what the supporters said.
On February 12, the court had disposed of a petition by the RSS-backed Sreedevi Vilasam Hindumatha Convention which claimed that the ritual did not harm the children. The Court had observed that the case had no locus standi since the same court had upheld the ban on March 7.
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.
Shockingly, Rajya Sabha MP, Suresh Gopi was one of 14 devotees who offered a Kuthiyottam where two kids underwent Chooral Muriyal with pierced midrib and were paraded with religious fervour.
Need to enforce the ban
Given the cruel nature of the ritual, High Court’s move was not a surprise. It has become a money making tool for some poor parents who let their kids undergo the torture for making quick bucks.
India is also a signatory to Article 19 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child which clearly states that government must “take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence.”
The government must make all efforts to enforce the ban as it has been there for last two years but the ritual continued unabated in 2017.