In a shocking example of the state’s growing disregard for its elderly, the famed temple town of Guruvayur in recent years has witnessed a steady rise in the number of senior citizens being dumped by their next-of-kin on the temple premises.
Every month, at least 5 to 10 people are found with no one to care for them in the temple town, said R K Jayarajan, Assistant Commissioner of Police, Guruvayur. Some of them, like Padmavathy Amma, a nonagenarian whose plight made news recently, are dumped by relatives; others voluntarily leave homes when the abuse becomes unbearable.
“The issue of families neglecting, fleecing, and abusing elderly parents is something that the holy town now witnesses every day. Many of the deserted people who reach here are not seekers of spirituality. They come with the hope of having two square meals a day served by the Devaswom authorities,” he said.
There is an elderly home run by Guruvayur Municipality in the town.
Few other shelters for the homeless elderly, run by various charity organisations in downtown areas, are often packed to full capacity, says T T Sivadasan, Guruvayur Municipality chairman.
The aged men and women who are forced to take refuge in the temple town often prefer to sit in open places around the temple. “The area is always busy with hectic activity all through the day, which instils a sense of security in their minds,” he said.
When ‘Express’ called on Padmavathy Amma, she was sitting quietly on her bed at the old-age home where she was boarded.
When the caretaker of the shelter asked whether she is comfortable in the home she nodded her head silently, wiping a tear that rolled down the cheek with the corner of her sari.