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`Thookam': locals feel cheated by Shiv Sena

By Our Staff Reporter

KOCHI, APRIL 23. The State leaders of the Shiv Sena who tried to corner the limelight today by taking up the cause of advocates of the `thookkam' ritual at the Sree Puthankavu Bhagavathi Temple in Elavoor near Angamaly, had to make an unceremonious exit from the temple premises when the local people favouring the ritual began to express their displeasure at the Sena.

Amidst tension following the ban imposed by the District Collector, Gyanesh Kumar, the Shiv Sena rajyapramukh (Kerala), M.S. Bhuvanachandran, and spokesman, Pallikkal Sunil, addressed a gathering of frenzied devotees at the temple. Instead of getting support of the devotees the cause, their speech apparently created a divide among them.

Mr. Sunil said the `thookkam' could not be held as the man who was to perform the ritual had been arrested and the equipment required had been taken away. There was no one else who had observed 41 days of fasting for the ritual, he said. Instead, he said, a symbolic velpradikshanam could be held by holding a trident. He said the Sena would take up the cause of `thookkam' and campaign for conducting of it the next year.

However, the Sena leaders soon had to make a retreat when some persons started to question their motives. "Why next year, if you can't hold it this time?" someone in the crowd shouted. The exhortation by the Sena leader to conduct a symbolic `velpradakshinam' to substitute the `thookkam' did not evoke any response from the devotees.

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