Devaswom Minister Kadannappally Ramachandran said here on Saturday that a large number of ritual performers in ‘kavus' (sacred groves) and temples in the North Malabar region would benefit from the introduction of a financial assistance scheme for ‘Acharasthanikar/ Koladharikal' of the temples in the region.
Announcing that the government had issued an order in this regard, the Minister said the scheme was being implemented as part of the government's declared policy of offering financial assistance schemes to improve the quality of life of sections that had been in financial distress in the State. He said ritual performers such as ‘anthithiriyan', ‘velichapad,' ‘komaram,' ‘karmi' and ‘ achan,' among others, in temples of the region had been living 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 Castes and other backward sections, he said adding that many of these performers faced difficulties.
As per the scheme, eligible ‘aacharasthanikars' would receive a monthly financial assistance of Rs.800. ‘Koladharis' who have 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 has been asked to invite applications from the beneficiaries and Assistant Commissioners have been told to submit the applications with the Malabar Devaswom Board's recommendations.
Asked about the total number of beneficiaries in the North Malabar region, the Minister said an earlier survey had found that there were nearly 5,000 such ritual performers.
The number of eligible beneficiaries would be less, as those who were employed elsewhere, service or other pensioners or those who earned annual income exceeding Rs.12,000 were exempted from the scheme. Also exempted were performers of rituals at family-run temples and those getting salary from temples.