Infant hurt in fall during temple ritual: Cops slap charges against parents, temple officials

As part of the ritual, the toddler was carried by a man who was lifted to a considerable height from the ground in a traditional sling (‘Thookkam’). Photo: Screengrab: Manorama News.

Pathanamthitta: Days after a toddler fell to the ground and sustained injuries during a temple ritual at the Ezhamkulam Devi temple, the Pathanamthitta Police on Thursday slapped charges against the parents of the eight-month-old infant as well as the temple administration.

“Yes, we’ve registered charges, including under sections of the Juvenile Justice Act against them,” Ajith V, District Police Chief told Onmanorama.
When contacted R Jayaraj, Adoor DySP, said the action was initiated against the parents of the child, natives of Pathanapuram, and also against the temple administration.

“Such acts in the name of beliefs compromise the safety of children. The child is yet to reach an age where it can realise things and hence the parents are responsible for getting the infant involved in such rituals. We’re taking action against the mother, father, and temple administration with charges,” he said.

Earlier the Adoor Police lodged a case suo motu against the ‘Thookakaran’ following the incident on Saturday night, even though the child’s parents did not file a complaint. A team led by Adoor SHO also recorded his statements.

Thookam Vazhipadu is a traditional ritual performed as an offering to propitiate the deity. Men dangle from the shaft of an elevated structure with a cloth tied around the chest and tethered to the shaft.

During the ritual, the baby slipped out of the hands of one of the Thookakarans, men performing the Thookam ritual, and fell from a height, though one of the onlookers tried to catch him during the fall, thus reducing the impact.

The baby was rushed to a private hospital, and the doctors stated the condition of the baby was “safe and stable”. However, the toddler reportedly suffered a “minor hand fracture”.

An initial probe by the District Child Protection Unit, functioning under the Department of Women and Child Development, found the temple committee failed to take “adequate precautionary measures for the safe conduct of the ritual.

Ezhamkulam Thookam is held annually in the Kumbham month as per the traditional Malayalam calendar. There were 624 ‘Thookams’ this time, out of which 124 were involving babies aged six months old and upwards.

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