Some utensils, those mostly used for daily rituals, kept inside vaults E and F of Sree Padmanbhaswamy Temple here were documented, as inventorying of the six underground vaults of the centuries-old temple, ordered by the Supreme Court, began on Monday.
The utensils, fewer than 10 of them, were photographed using 3-D cameras, subjected to X-ray fluorescence to find out the material with which they have been made, and given a 10-digit antique identification number. It took at least half an hour to document each article. The process which began shortly after 11 a.m. got over by 3 p.m.
In deference to the customs of the temple, the articles in vaults E and F were taken out by the temple priests, the ‘Nambis,' themselves. These were then placed in a tray and moved around in trolleys to different workstations where the Digital Archiving of Temple Antiques (DATA) were carried out under the supervision of the expert committee appointed by the Supreme Court. The articles were then kept back inside the respective vaults. This work schedule is expected to be repeated on Tuesday and Wednesday.
In addition to personnel from Keltron, the DATA implementing agency, domain experts from a panel identified by the committee were present during the documentation process. These experts, specialising in gold ornaments, gems, and coins, would be called in depending on the nature of the article being documented.
Before the commencement of the inventorying, M.V. Nair, who heads the committee, told presspersons that he would write to the court seeking a directive on opening vaults A to D. These vaults are kept under the seal of the Principal Sub-court, Thiruvananthapuram, consequent on its pronouncements in a case filed in 2007.
Each time these vaults are to be opened, mainly in connection with the temple festivals, the temple administration seeks permission from the sub-court. The seal is then removed by advocate commissioners who again re-seal the vaults after the objects taken out are kept back.
Recently, the Supreme Court passed orders preventing the sub-court from making any pronouncements in the case of 2007. The expert committee is now unsure whether it has the authority to break open the seals of these vaults. In fact, Monday's inventorying was to have begun at vault C. The next hearing of the temple case at the Supreme Court is on February 23.