Devaswom Minister Ramachandran Kadannappally has said that large number of ritual performers in ‘kavus’ (sacred groves) and temples in the North Malabar region will benefit from the introduction of a financial assistance scheme for ‘Acharasthanikar/Koladharikal’ of the shrines in the region.

Announcing that the government had issued an order in this regard, the Minister said that the scheme was being implemented as part of the government’s declared policy of offering financial assistance schemes for improving the quality of life of sections that had been in financial distress in the State. He said that the ritual performers such as ‘anthithiriyan’, ‘velichapad’, ‘komaram’, ‘karmi’ and ‘achan’, among others, in the shrines and temples of the region had been living a life aloof from public life as they were engaged in ritualistic activities after their consecration as ritual performers. Most of the ‘koladharis’ performing ‘theyyam’ rituals were from the Scheduled Caste and other backward sections, he said adding that many of these performers had been facing difficulties.

As per the scheme introduced to help them, all eligible ‘aacharasthanikar’ would receive a monthly financial assistance of Rs. 800. The ‘koladharis’ having completed 50 years would be eligible for a monthly assistance of Rs. 700, he said. Efforts were under way to finalise a list of the eligible beneficiaries under the scheme, for which the last State Budget had earmarked an allocation of Rs. 1 crore. The Malabar Devaswom Commissioner had been entrusted to invite applications from the beneficiaries and Assistant Commissioners were asked to submit to the applications with the Malabar Devaswom Board’s recommendations.

Asked about the total number of beneficiaries in the North Malabar region, the Minister said that an earlier survey had found that there were nearly 5000 such ritual performers. The number of eligible beneficiaries would be less as those who were employed elsewhere, service or other pensioners or those who were getting annual income exceeding Rs. 12,000 were exempted from the scheme. Also exempted were performers of rituals in family-run temples, those getting salary from temples. Those who were doing the ritual works for minimum 50 days would be eligible for the scheme, the Minister said.

Mr. Kadannappally said that the financial assistance under the scheme would be disbursed among the beneficiaries through Assistant Commissioners in each division under the board.