The Kerala state government has booked around a hundred Hindu devotees of the Varaikkal Devi temple for making offerings during the ‘Karkitaka Vavu Bali’ festival at the Varakkal Beach in Kozhikode on Sunday (August 8). These people had gathered here to perform ‘Bali’ offerings (sacrificial rituals). The Kerala police have invoked the Epidemic Diseases Act against the Hindus who were performing the ritual.
The devotees were booked for flouting Covid restrictions, which have been intensified in the state ever since Covid cases started to swell exponentially after the Communist government in Kerala eased relaxation prior to the celebration of Bakri Eid.
Police officials said that the priest who was conducting the ritual was given clear instructions not to hold the offering at the beach, but he violated the orders.
According to reports, the authorities had issued prior warnings against violation of COVID-19 restrictions. Owing to these state-imposed restrictions, many places in Kerala including, Aluva ‘Sivarathri Manappuram’ on the bank of River Periyar in Ernakulam district and Thiruvallam Parasurama temple here, where people usually throng to perform ‘Bali tharpanam’ ritual wore a deserted look on Sunday.
The BJP in Kerala had requested the state’s Left Front government to spare devotees from COVID-19-related lockdown restrictions so that they may participate in the annual Hindu ceremony.
However, the state government which has eased lockdown curbs and allowed shops and other establishments to operate for six days a week refused to make this Sunday an exception. The Communist govt in the state has decided to confine the weekend lockdown to a single day, Sunday.
Pertinently, the Pinarayi Vijayan government had eased restrictions for Eid-ul-Adha celebrations. Despite raging infections in Kerala and the state government’s inability to manage the pandemic, the Pinarayi Vijayan-led government had given in to the pressure of the Muslim community in the society and had lifted lockdown restrictions for three days to celebrate Bakrid or Eid-ul-Adha from July 18 to July 21. The Kerala government had announced relaxations for the Bakrid festival in a press conference organised on July 17.
As restrictions were removed ahead of the Eid celebrations, Kerala has recorded the highest number of fresh cases surpassing the two-month average. The Eid events in Kerala went on to become the epicentre of Covid-19 infections not just in Kerala but also in its neighbouring states such as Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
Seeing the Covid situation go out of hand in the state, the Central government had to intervene. It decided to send a team to the state to take a stock of the situation and regulate the crisis.