The suicide of a 32-year-old woman at Manaloor in Thrissur, Kerala after an alleged character assassination in public by the ‘Oracle’ (Velichappadu) at her family temple during a ritual points to the larger social issue of moral policing in Kerala and this time in the guise of prophesying.
The Oracle of the Karanath family Temple, Sreekanth Karanath, 25, was arrested by Anthikkad Police and was presented to the Judicial Magistrate Court in Thrissur on Tuesday afternoon. He has been slapped with charges of abetting suicide.
The incident has raised questions regarding the misuse of a temple rituals of prophesying and blessings given by Oracle and the violation of its sanctity. The husband of the victim, Jobin, who is working in Muscat, says that she had been targeted earlier too. In the earlier incident his wife’s mobile phone call records were examined to ascertain whether she was calling other men as claimed by those who were casting aspersions on her.
On February 25, the Oracle Sreekanth, during a ritual, told the victim, Syambavi, that she had committed a wrongful act and directed her to seek an apology before the ‘devi’ (deity of the temple). The woman devotee, whose husband is working in Muscat, had been facing such slanderous comments from the public for the past nine months became upset and rang up her husband, Jobin, to tell him that she could no longer stand the insults and harassment anymore and would end her life.
She committed suicide during the wee hours of the morning by hanging inside her house leaving behind her husband and two sons.
According to the sub inspector Jinesh K J, the young oracle had told the cops during the interrogation that it was the divine power, which having entered his body during the ritual, had directed him to say such things.
Jinesh also said that a detailed inquiry would be conducted into those persons in Company Paddi locality in Manalur especially Janamithran, who works as manager in a toddy shop, for defaming the victim in the locality and in her family circles.
In the complaint lodged on March 1, with Anthikkad Police by Jobin, he mentions that Janamithran had asked his friend Oracle Sreekanth, to insult her in front of nearly 200 of her family members under the guise of the ritual.
Normally, the oracles would only prophesy and ask the devotees the need for more devotion to the deities to get their blessing. Nothing about the character or sins/wrongs committed by the devotee is mentioned by the oracles during the ritual.
Jobin alleged that there was a conspiracy behind the entire episode and the main conspirator was Janamithran who belongs to the extended Karanath family. “There was slander campaigning linking my wife with a youth in the locality named Kiran, who is now working abroad. Janamithran was at the forefront of this malicious campaign against my wife. This has been going on for the past nine months and, in May last year, during Thrissur Pooram, Janamithran had called me while I was in Muscat with insinuating stories questioning the character of my wife,” Jobin said.
Jobin had to come down on an emergency leave to sort out matters and prove the allegations wrong. He said that he spoke to Kiran, who told him that whatever was being said about his wife was wrong and Kiran had tendered an apology to him over the issue.
“A few months later, Kiran’s father insulted my mother in public by slandering my wife. It was then that my wife and I told my close relatives and Kiran’s family members to check her call records to put an end to the matter. The list of call records was collected and examined and it proved that the allegations against my wife were fully wrong,” Jobin said.
Jobin also said that he and his wife Syambavi thought that the issue was over but when the Oracle brought it up again it came as a shock to her and she had said could not bear this torment any longer. He alleged this had pushed her to commit suicide.