A statement issued by the Palliyoda Seva Sanghom, organisers of the annual Uthrittathi Vallamkali (snake boat regatta) in river Pampa at Aranmula during the Onam festival, regarding its links with the Sree Parthasarathy Temple at Aranmula on the festival day has kicked up a new controversy.

Prominent citizens, including the temple Tantri, Thrivikraman Narayanan Bhattathiripad, have taken strong exception to the controversial PSS statements in the counter affidavit filed before the Kerala High Court in connection with the debarring of the Poovathoor-East Palliyodam (snakeboat) from the Vallamkali.

The PSS counter affidavit filed before the Court on July 25 said, “The main venue of the festival is the compound of the PWD Sathram and the schedule time is between 1 pm and 5 pm when the temple is closed.’’

It further adds that “Even though the boat race is scheduled on the day of Uthrittathi in the month of Chingom, there is no ritual connected with the temple during the festival time.’’

Talking to The Hindu, many prominent citizens of Aranmula have expressed their strong disagreement and protest against this controversial PSS version.

Tantri criticises PSS version

The temple Tantri (chief priest), Thrivikraman Narayanan Bhattathiripad, told The Hindu that it was unfortunate that PSS had committed such an unpardonable mistake. Mr Bhattathiripad said the sanctum sanctorum of the Sree Parthasarathy remains open through out the Uthrittathi day for various special rituals in connection with the festival.

He said the Vallamkali was very much a part of the idol installation day celebrations at the Sree Parthasarathy Temple and hence the PSS version that “ there is no ritual connected with the temple during the festival time’’ was absolutely false and misleading.

The Tantri said the people of Aranmula could not simply sideline the allegation that the PSS was trying to protect the interests of someone else by making such a grievous mistake before the High Court.

Sugathakumari responds

Responding to the PSS statement, noted poet Sugathakumari said no saner person could deny the very fact that the Aranmula Vallamkali has got strong ritualistic links with the Sree Parthasarathy Temple.

People of Aranmula believe that the presiding deity, Lord Krishna, is present in one of the Palliyodams (snakeboats) taking part in the regatta on the Uthrittathi day, says the poet.

Malethu Saraladevi, former MLA, said the PSS statement that the temple remain closed during the Vallamkali was absolutely baseless. According to her, the Parthasarathy Temple remain open through out the day twice a year, on the Uthrittathi day and on the 12th day in the Malayalam month of Vrischikom when the auspicious ‘Panthradu-kalabhom’ is performed.