KOCHI: Sivarathri Manappuram at Aluva, which has been the venue of bali tharpanams for generations, witnessed a rare ritual on Tuesday.
A 14-member team including 11 US nationals performed the ritual on the river bank. The team comprising mostly women was on their first visit to Kerala.

Speaking to media after the ritual, S K Kulreshtra, a businessman from Maharashtra who led the team said that they wanted to relieve their ancestors of the curses. “My daughter Bhavna has been working in the US for spreading spirituality and relevance of India in the spiritualdom. It was she who introduced the US citizens to these rituals. Knowing about this, they all wanted to relieve their forefathers of the curses,” he said.

The 14 member team woke up in the morning and reached at the Manappuram at around 6 am.The rituals which began around 6.30 am were conducted under the priesthood of Sankaran Elayath. The guide who accompanied the group translated the instructions given by the priest.After completing the rituals, they took a bath in River Periyar and offered darshan at the Mahadeva Temple at Manappuram.

According to administrative officer of Mahadeva Temple, P R Suresh, Manappuram hadn’t witnessed such an event before.”Foreign media, including the BBC had telecast the balitharpanam rituals earlier. But, we haven’t heard of any foreign nationals performing bali tharpanam,” he said.

Meanwhile, the preparations for this year’s Sivarathri festival are fast progressing here. District administration convened a meeting of all government departments and other agencies to coordinate their efforts for smooth conduct of the festival. MLA Anwar Sadath, municipal chairperson Lizzy Abraham, councillors, representatives of various government departments and police attended the meeting.

“We have barricaded the accident prone areas and banned constructions of balitharas in such areas,” Suresh said. There would around 200 balitharas this year, he added.