Kerala HC Rules Against Controversial ‘Chooral Muriyal’ Ritual
February 22nd, 2018
[Update: The Logical Indian apologises misreporting in the original article. It appeared in the earlier version that young boys are actually sacrificed to the deity, however, the sacrifice is symbolic. A thin golden twine is inserted through the boys’ skin, near the waist, and is then tied to their neck. Elders pull out the string from boys’ bleeding fissures which, in turn, is offered to goddess Badrakali.]
The Kerala High Court ruled against the controversial ‘chooral muriyal’ ritual practised in Chettikulangara temple in Alappuzha district. ‘Chooral muriyal‘, is the practice of symbolic offering of young boys to the deity. The court also held that strict action would be taken if anybody is found violating the order.
‘Chooral Muriyal’, a 250-year-old ritual is a part of koodiyattam organised during the annual ‘Kumba Bharani’ festival in Chettikulangara Devi temple in Alappuzha, Kerala. This festival is known as the ‘Kumba Mela’ of the South. Young boys are adopted by wealthy people and offered as symbolic ‘bali’ (sacrifice). These boys are adopted in exchange for money. On the day of the festival, they are dressed up like kings crowned with paper and are taught to dance.
“It is a blatant case of child trafficking and abuse. This is happening at a point when India aspires to be a world power and its children are abused in the name of religion. Something like this cannot go unchecked,” said Jaswinder Singh, the head of communications, at Protsahan to The Indian Express.
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. When the procession reaches the temple, elders pull out the string from boys’ bleeding fissures and offer it to goddess Badrakali.
“It’s a symbolic ceremony. Besides, permission is taken before-hand from the children’s parents. The kids won’t feel any pain. I did it when I was 10 and I didn’t feel anything,” said Gopalakrishna Pillai, a koodiyattam asaan (teacher) to The Indian Express.
The ritual was banned in 2016 by Kerala State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (KeSCPCR), but the temple continued the practice and there were reports that the temple was preparing 24 children for Chooral Muriyal to be performed on February 22. Later, the court received a petition filed by a devotee outfit called Shree Devi Vilasam claiming that the ritual did not harm the children.
Response from temple authorities
“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,” the temple authorities told The News Minute.