Kannur: Temple Melshanthi (Chief Priest) Perkulam Subramanian Namboothiri said that there does not seem to have been any caste discrimination in the Payyannur Nambiatrakovval Siva Temple. Devaswom Minister K Radhakrishnan participated in the ceremony and things were done according to the temple rituals. The lamp that was to be given to the minister had to be put down because the inauguration at the shrine was during the puja time.
“At that time any priest can only do so. The Devaswom Minister who said he would come at 4 o’clock, came late, and then it was puja time. That is why the lamp had to be put down. There was no issue of caste system here,” he said.
“No money was taken from the minister as Dakshina, nor did the minister give any money. Receiving Dakshina from devotees is a customary practice, and it is customary not to make physical contact with anyone upon reaching the temple for worship,” explained Melshanthi Perkulam Subramanian Namboothiri. He further noted that similar inaugurations and ceremonies had occurred in the past, following the same protocol. Subramanian Namboothiri expressed regret for any inconvenience caused to the minister and emphasized that the prevailing traditions would persist, leaving any potential changes to the discretion of the governing body.
The caste discrimination controversy began when Minister Radhakrishnan, belonging to the Scheduled Caste community, recounted an incident that occurred during an event on Sunday. He stated that two temple priests had declined to hand over the small lamp intended for lighting the main lamp at the inauguration of the shrine. Instead, the priests lit the main lamp themselves and then placed the small lamp on the ground, assuming that he would take it, he said.
However, the Akhila Kerala Tantri Samajam refuted his claim of caste discrimination and said that the Minister’s statement was because of misunderstanding about temple rituals. The Samajam in a statement said that the Chief Priest who comes to the temple to do pooja to the Deity do not touch anyone until the worship of the Deity is completed. There is no difference between a Brahmin or non-Brahmin.
But the minister dismissed the clarification of the Akhila Kerala Thanthri Samajam that priests who perform ‘deva pujas’ do not touch anyone and that the entire issue was a ‘misunderstanding’.