Freak accident during temple ritual, WCD probe points to laxity in implementing safety measures

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: Two days after a toddler fell to the ground and sustained injuries during a temple ritual at the Ezhamkulam Devi temple, the District Child Protection unit under the Department of Women and Child Development has found out that the temple committee failed to take adequate precautionary measures for the safe conduct of the ritual.

"We’ll submit the report to the State Commission for Protection of Child Rights soon. As per the initial probe, no adequate precautionary measure was taken this time, though usually, the temples adhere to such safety steps. We’re also awaiting a report from the doctors who treated the child regarding the extent of the injury suffered," said an official on condition of anonymity.

“The scope of the probe is confined strictly to the safety of babies who take part in the ritual. A state-level committee meeting is scheduled for February 22, in which we will finalize the report,” the official added.

The police have lodged a case suo motu against the ‘Thookkakaran' (the man who performed the ritual) following the incident on Saturday night. No complaint has been received from the child’s parents who are natives of Pathanapuram. The temple committee members did not comment on the incident.

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.

When contacted, K V Manoj Kumar, Chairperson of the Kerala State Commission for Protection of Child Rights, said a direction was given to the Station House Officer to take the necessary action.

"I’ve also asked the District Child Protection Officer to file a report in a week based on which we will take further action," the official said.

Thookam Vazhipadu, a traditional ritual is 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. 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 above.

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