Irresponsible Devaswom Board responsible for Theft of Divine Ornaments

published on February 21, 2008

Probe into Thrippunithura temple theft started
Pioneer News Service | Kochi

The State police have started a probe into the suspected theft of the more-than-one-kilo gold top (Makudam) and floral pattern of the shield (Kolam) of Lord Sree Poornathrayeesa of the Thrippunithura temple near Kochi . The probe was launched after the secretary of the Cochin Devaswom Board (CDB), which is in charge of the administration of the temple, lodged a complaint with the police.

The 1.056-kilo gold shield-top and flowers were valued at more than Rs 10 lakh, but devotees said it was not just the value in monetary terms that made it priceless. The gold top and flowers were part of the decorations made to the shield during the king’s rule in Kochi .

The missing of the golden top and flowers from the Kolam were noticed by the Devaswom Vigilance officer. He discovered that the golden top had been replaced on the Kolam with a Makudom made of some other metal.

Devaswom Board president TG Ravi said the board had asked for a Crime Branch probe into theft. He said the former Devaswom Boards had not taken care to protect temple properties.

Following the incident, activists of the Hindu Aikya Vedi held a dharna at the temple protesting against the suspected theft, demanding protection to temple property and a high-level probe into the theft. Siva Sena observed a hartal in Thrippunithura in protest against the incident. Sources in the Devaswom said that there was a suspicion that more valuable could have lost from the temple treasure chest.

The missing of the gold top was noticed when the Kolam and other temple property were taken out of the stone-made strong-room of the temple for maintenance works for the Para Utsavam. The Kolam and other temple artifacts would be taken out of the strong-room only on the two occasions of the Thrikketta Festival of Malayalam month Vrischikam and the Para Utsavam now.

As per temple records, the Kolam, dedicated to the temple during the king’s rule, had 4.941 kilos of gold on it. But when the Kolam was examined while it was taken out recently for the festival, 1.056 kilos of gold was missing. The temple property was taken out of the strong-room in the presence of Devaswom special officer for ornaments and utensils Rajan Thalappilly, vigilance officer VG Subramanyan, assistant commissioner MD Komalam, Devaswom officer Ajayan and temple heirs Vasudevan Moothathu and Mohanan Menoki.

The Devaswom vigilance officer instructed for a detailed examination of the Makudam of the Kolam after he felt that it was heavier than it should it be. The Devaswom authorities lodged a complaint with the Thrippunithura police on the basis of a report given by the special officer for ornaments and utensils.

The Devaswom authorities also told the police that they suspected some other golden ornaments also could have lost from the temple. The police were looking into this also.

A police official said that they would have to search for very old documents to ascertain the extent of loss as no accurate evaluation or carrying-over accounting system had not been done for the past many years.

Devotees complained that the Devaswom authorities were not in the habit of showing the required seriousness in the matters of the temple. Several allegations about theft and other irregularities had come up about the Sree Poornathrayeesa temple earlier also, they said. A caparison to be put on elephants was seen hanging from a tree in the temple compound once, a devotee said. But no inquiries had been conducted over any of these incidents, he added.

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