A top cop R Sreelekha from Kerala who is also an IPS officer has raised her voice against ‘Kuthiyottam’ ritual which is a part of the ceremony followed in Attukal Pongala festival. Upping the ante against ‘Kuthiyottam’ ritual, the cop has said that it’s a ‘cruelty to kids’. The cop has written a blog questioning the ritual to which she has termed as cruelty to kids. In her blog, she has explained the entire process of this ritual that how it is performed, for how many days the ritual process continues, through what circumstances the kids (Boys from the age of 5-12) are made to live and asked to follow a strict and disciplined routine and how they are tortured.
Further putting her point forward and speaking against the ritual, top cop R Sreelekha wrote in her blog, “Little girls are decked up and made to wear a crown, carry a with lit lamp and other things and just paraded around. Harmless! But for 1000 odd boys, it’s torture time in Attukal now. Parents conspire with temple authorities to put their children through rigorous mental and physical abuse for five days where boys from the age of 5 to 12 are made to wear just a loin cloth, submerge in cold water thrice daily, eat measly morsels squatting on the floor and sleep on the bare temple ground. Yes, recite mantras and obey blindly their leaders too. They are not allowed to see their parents during this time.”
DGP R Sreelekha further continued and said, “And on the final day, each of them will be decked up with yellow cloths, garlands, jewellery and makeup on face including lipstick and made to stand in a queue for their last unexpected torture. An iron hook, tiny though it is, will be pierced into their skin on their flanks. They scream. Blood comes out. A thread will be symbolically knotted through the hooks to symbolise their bond with divinity. Then hooks are pulled out and ash roughly applied to the wounds! All this for temple deity! Parents may feel relieved that their boys will now grow up to be disciplined kids and do well in their studies. Will the kids too feel the same? And how will our dear Attukal Amma be feeling?”
The top cop has specifically emphasised on the ritual part when an iron hook is pierced into kids body leaving them in pain with blood coming out. According to the cop, the children are pulled into this ritual without informing them about the piercing part. The IPS officer further adds that these could be offences under IPC sections. She says that causing physical and mental pain to children are offences under sections 89, 319, 320, 349, 350, 351 of Indian Penal Code (IPC). The Juvenile Justice Act and the Child Welfare Commission Act penalises it.
Kuthiyottam is ritual which is performed by children falling in the age group between 5-12. It’s a 7-day ritual during which children are made to stay inside the temple premises and are not allowed to meet their parents. During this 7-day ritual, they are made to follow a strict routine, eat measly morsels squatting on the floor. According to the temple authorities, they believe that ritual depicts children as “soldiers of the goddess”. DGP R Sreelekha also mentioned that till there is some intervention by the authorities to stop this cruelty on kids, she will not be offering a Pongala this year.