THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: This year too the Mala Araya tribal community’s demand for restoring their traditional right to light the sacred Makaravilakku will not be fulfilled. After a long-drawn fight in the State Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, the issue is now before the High Court. Though the commission had completed hearing in the case, it reportedly reserved its order after a case was filed in the High Court.
The Mala Araya community members claim that the lamp was lit by members of their tribe in the past. “Our predecessors lighted the lamp until they were evicted from the forest for the Sabarigiri power project in 1950s,” said N Sreenivasan, coordinator of the Mala Araya Samyukta Samiti. After the eviction of the tribe from the forest, the Travancore Devaswom Board took up the task and assigned the task of lighting the lamp to officials of the Electricity Board and the Forest Department.
The previous board headed by Prayar Gopalakrishnan reassigned the task with the chief priest of the Lord Ganapathi temple at Pampa. The thantri family and the erstwhile royal families of Travancore and Pandalam are in support of the Mala Arayas’ claim. The original petitioner before the State Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes is Rahul Easwar, member of the Thazhamon Madhom tantri family, who was later joined by the Mala Araya Samyukta Samiti. Deva swom Mini s t e r Kadakampally Surendran had earlier stated in the Assembly that the rights of Mala Arayas will be preserved but he did not make any specific assurance on Makaravilakku.