GURUVAYUR: Some relinquished the material world to find solace in the divine by embarking on a pilgrimage that brought them to the doors of Lord Krishna’s abode at Guruvayur in Kerala. Those were the lucky ones. Then, there are a few that found shelter at the famed temple when their helplessness due to old age made them a burden on their relatives. The doors of the Guruvayur Devaswom-owned Sathram (Inn) opened wide to welcome them all.
Over the years, the Sathram has seen a steady rise in the number of people reaching its doors to escape from abusive relatives, poverty and pangs of hunger. However, not much has been done to uplift the lot of such refugees, despite several calls.
The two long corridors on the eastern and western entrances, Melpathur auditorium and the pandals around the temple are not much different from a refugee camp, where the destitutes try to find shelter against the elements.
However, even there they have to fight for space with the personnel of the Kerala police, who camp here while on security duty. At any given time, there are around 200-250 destitutes and orpans jostling for space on the temple premises.
Recently, the crisis grabbed attention when the office of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan intervened to provide shelter to an abandoned woman, whose child had been going to school from the temple premise daily, following news-reports. According to the local residents, the authorities swing into action only when such cases are brought to light by the media.
Speaking to Express, Guruvayur Devasom administrator Achuthan Nair said that they had asked the police to vacate the building to accommodate the poor. However, the department was yet to comply with the request.
Besides, the Social Justice Department had not made any serious intervention to find a solution to the problem, he said. However, Guruvayur ACP R Jayachandran Pillai said it was up to the authorities to provide an alternative place to shelter the police providing security to the temple.
Orphanage Control Board member secretary K K Mani told Express that when he tried to address the issue by convening a meeting of representatives of various Devaswom Boards, temples bodies and caste outfits in the State, the department received only a lukewarm response from them.
“They are more interested in matters like holding of temple festival and firework displays. Though some outfits like Sevabhrathi did come forward, more patronage is needed to address the issue,” he said.