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Kerala: Covid lockdown restrictions force people to perform ‘Bali Tharpanam’ rituals at home

Restrictions to contain the spread of coronavirus in Kerala forced people to offer “bali” to their ancestors by performing the rituals in their homeson the occasion of ‘Karkitaka Vavu Bali’ on Sunday. Many places in Kerala including Aluva ‘Sivarathri Manappuram’ on the bank of River Periyar in Ernakulam district and Thiruvallam Parasurama temple herewhere people used to throngto perform ‘Bali tharpanam’ ritualwore a deserted look on Sunday as the authorities had issuedprior warnings against violation of COVID-19 restrictions.

However, arrangements were done for the people to perform offerings for rituals like ‘thilahomam’ and ‘pithruhomam’ at many temples in the state on Sunday morning. The BJP in Kerala had urged the Left Front government in the state to give exemption for devotees from lockdown restrictions, imposed in view of the COVID-19 situation, to participate in the annual Hindu ritual.

Though the state government had recently eased lockdown curbs and allowed shops and other establishments to operate for six days in a week, it was decided to continue restrictions on Sundays. The Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) which manages major temples in Travancore region in the state had recently decided to avoid the ‘Bali tharpanam’ in its shrines this year citing the spread of coronavirus. The Devaswom Boards and police used to make elaborate arrangements to enable people to offer ‘Bali tharpanam’ at important places.

Thiruvallam Parasurama Temple and Shangumugham Beach here, Varkala Papanasam Beach and banks of Periyar river in Ernakulam district are famous for “Karkitaka Vavu Bali” rituals. Cutting across gender and age barriers, people belonging to the Hindu community usually perform the traditional ritual on the banks of rivers and seashores across the southern state on the occasion of the ‘Karkkitaka Vavu’.

According to Hindu belief, departed souls attain ‘moksha’ (liberation) if the ritual is performed on ‘Karkitaka Vavu’ day. Last year also the ritual had to be cancelled at temples across the state due to the COVID-19 restrictions.

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