Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Painful Thoughts - 2 - K. J. Thomas

Painful thoughts-2    Tragedy at Paravur Puttingal Devi temple
Mr.Prime Minister, you did an excellent job when you rushed to the Paravur Puttingal Devi Temple ground yesterday, to see for yourself the debris of the man-made inferno.  You reminded us of your sacred principles uttered by you at the swearing in ceremony, that “you would be pradhan sevak and not pradhan mantri”.  ( You said  “ I shall be the first servant and not the Prime Minister”).  We, people of Kerala bow to your dedication and love for us.
We all know that the tragedy at Puttingal Devi Temple ground was due to utter carelessness and negligence on the part of the organizers and politicians who flouted the order of the district collector.  The Kollam collector had denied permission for the Puttingal Devi Temple fireworks competition, but in the eleventh hour the local politicians put pressure on police officials to go ahead with the fireworks.  The illegal and the most devastating fireworks began around 12-30 and ended in the wee hours of 3.30 killing more than hundred people and more than 400 people were maimed, creating a man made inferno in the holy place.
Many years ago Sree Narayana Guru had foreseen the dangers of fire-works, and wanted to stop the firework display at temple.  He said, “Kariuym,  Karimarunnum Venda” ( we don’t want elephants and crackers), because it was not part of Hindu tradition
About ten years ago the Supreme Court had banned bursting of crackers at night. The Supreme Court in a judgment on July 18, 2005 imposed a total ban on the use of sound emitting firecrackers between 10 pm and 6 am. 
This dangerous situation had been foreseen by many residential people in the neighbourhood of the temple premises and had warned the concerned authorities beforehand but they all ignored these saner voices.  The neighbours had objected to the display of the firework competition, because every competitor wanted to outsmart his rival by using more and more deadly explosive chemicals including Pottasium Chlorate to make the display more effective and colourful and the fanatics wanted to enjoy this primitive, savage fun.
In the four hour long fire- works, the most awaited item was a ‘Sunflower’ (Sooraykanti poov)  the way colours would unravel in the open clear sky, resembling a sunflower field in full bloom. But the sunflower turned out to be the killer flower eating away more than hundred people in the wee hours of the tragic Sunday.
In various Christian church festivals, now a days display of fireworks is a must and a regular attraction drawing thousands of people. In many Christian church festivals, many competitors are there to conduct this sound and colour game and they use very powerful chemicals to defeat their rivals in this dangerous pastime, flouting all the laws and orders issued by the government. Those who oppose this cruel, primitive custom were ostracized by the people and even church authorities in Trichur district a few years ago. 
 Many scholars say that ‘vedikkettu ritual’ (fire work ritual) is a feudal hang over promoted by the kings and the elite class of the ancient time and it is not at all essential for the rituals either in the temple or in the churches and it must be banned.  This huge amount can be converted to be used for the welfare of the poor people in Kerala.
 Swami Chidanandapuri said that instead of lavishing on elephant processions and fire work display, if the money had been channelized to the various welfare activities, the Hindu society would have been greatly benefited by it. 
In the last three years alone, 451 people have died in Kerala in accidents related to fireworks. Hindu scholars say that word ‘Utsavam, which is a part of the Tantra Shastra, has been corrupted over a period of time. Utsavam is a six or 12-day kriya done to seek pardon for straying from the spiritual path. Nowhere in the ancient scriptures, it has been mentioned that temples need to burst crackers even as offering to gods. Temples in India appeared in the mythical ‘Dwaparaka Yuga and there was never a mention of usage of firecrackers in the Upanishads or Vedas.
Fireworks are not at all a part of Christian rituals. There is no mention of fireworks in the Bible. Jesus Christ taught his disciples the spiritual beauty of silent prayer and meditation. All other rituals are added later.
 Almost all the victims of the fireworks accident at the Puttingal Devi temple belonged to lower middle class and working class.     They are born to suffer while the rich and the powerful enjoy the benefit.                                                                                                                                                                                Kjt/12-04-2016

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