MADURAI: India is a secular country, but we do everything which is un-secular, woman activists opine when asked about the recently-exposed incident, wherein several girls decked up like goddesses were made to participate bare-chested at a festival in Vellalur in Tamil Nadu's Madurai district.
Madurai collector K Veera Raghava Rao has issued a direction to ensure that the girls are not harassed or abused. He, however, made it clear that the ancient village ritual would not be stopped stating that parents voluntarily send their girls to the temple.
Bashing the incident several women activists have voiced their opinions, with Chennai based Sudha Ramalingam saying, “India is a secular country, but we do everything which is un-secular and expose children to poignant practices."
She further stated that such practices are going to have a negative impact on the psyche of the children.
“The State Government doesn’t seem to be very serious about this and that is the reason the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has come into play,” Ramalingam said.
Another women activist Akila said that such incidents are very dangerous for children.
“It is very dangerous for children to be exposed to such practices in the name of faith or religion. We need to understand that our primary priority should be securing the children, protecting them from any harm that may come to them or participating or encouraging such practices,” she said.
Akila further said that although an action has been taken, people still need to take a stronger view at this and oppose such practices.
The above-mentioned ritual, which takes place annually, witnesses scores of adolescent girls dressed up in a similar style with no upper garments and paraded in front of the Yezhaikaatha Amman Temple at Vellalur.
In a video released by The Covai Post, seven girls decked up like goddesses, with only jewellery to cover their chest were seen carrying paddy baskets on their head, which they offer to the temple priest.
They spend 15 days in the care of a male priest as part of the annual ritual. Only girls who haven't reached puberty are sent to the temple.
Following the report of the temple ritual, the local authorities stepped in and issued orders that the girls must be allowed to cover their bodies.