'Dry' Panchayat Wants to Ban Toddy for Goddess

Published: 07th August 2014 08:48 AM  |   Last Updated: 07th August 2014 08:48 AM   |  A+A-

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Resolute in spirit to keep the menace of alcoholism off its geographic limits, a panchayat in the capital will attempt to alter the routine of a goddess whose favourite offering is sweet toddy.

Elected representatives of the Kalliyoor grama panchayat, which was declared alcohol-free 10 months ago, said they would ask the Vellayani Devi Temple management to rethink on the ancient ‘madhupooja’ ritual.

Kalliyoor does not have any toddy or IMFL outlets within its limits after the declaration of the panchayat as liquor-free.

The daily ‘madhupooja’ ritual involves offering sweet toddy in earthen pots to the deity. Hundreds of devotees flock to the temple to perform the ritual on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays, days considered the most auspicious for worshipping the deity. The ‘blessed’ pots are returned to the devotees after the pooja.

“We will ask the temple management to conduct a ‘devaprasnam’ (astrological consultation to know the will of the goddess) on whether the practice could be replaced by another offering,” said panchayat president S Udayakumar.

“Rituals like animal sacrifice were stopped in many temples with the passage of time. Toddy or liquor-related offerings are also outdated,” he said.

The temple advisory committee said it would reject a fiat against the ritual.

“Madhupooja is linked to the origin of the temple. Legend says a divine presence was discovered in the area by a toddy tapper and a scholar named Kelankulasekharavasi,” said committee secretary N V Raveendran Nair.

Nair, however, said the committee had plans to ban devotees from offering IMFL at the nearby shrine, considered to be the original abode of the deity.

“Devotees offer IMFL owing to the shortage of sweet toddy, but it is against the tradition,” he said. Toddy suppliers said their task has become difficult. “Toddy tapping is illegal in the panchayat after the alcohol-free announcement. We rely on toddy shops in nearby panchayats, but the sweet toddy would ferment owing to the time delay,” said Sajan, a local toddy tapper.

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