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Despite its progress in human development and educational standards compared to other states in India, Kerala continues to embarrass its admirers with its hidden and savage fascination for the occult and thriving worship of black magic, bizarre cults including crocodile worship. The shocking report of incidents of human sacrifice in Kochi, unearthed by the police on Tuesday once again exposed the contradictions in Kerala society with high literacy and excellent social indicators together with medieval practices and beliefs.
The murders of Padmam, 53, a resident of Panchavadi Colony, Ponnuruthi, Kochi and Rosily, 49, a native of Kainadi in Alappuzha district, were committed by Bhagaval Singh and his wife Laila, who believed that sacrificing the two women would bring sudden prosperity to the family. Police arrested three persons — Singh, 68, a native of Elanthur, Pathanamthitta, Laila, 54, and another man Muhammed Shafi alias Rasheed, 52 — in connection with the incidents.
According to the police, Shafi had convinced Singh and Laila of the need for human sacrifices and also lured and trapped the victims, taking them to Singh’s house. The human sacrifice was held in order to ensure prosperity to the family of Bhagaval Singh who worked as a massage therapist. Rosily was the first to be killed, way back in June, while Padmam was murdered in September. Shafi, who had been performing black magic rituals, claimed that it would save people from the evil, avenge enemies, ensure cure from diseases and offer instant riches. He insisted on a second sacrifice as the family complained that there were no positive signs in their life after the murder of Rosily. The Singh family had paid him hefty sums for luring in victims and performing the rituals, police said.
According to the police, the accused not only brutally murdered the two women after subjecting them to extreme torture, but also ate their flesh, sliced the bodies into pieces and buried the body parts in four pits near their home.
The shocking report of incidents of human sacrifice in Kochi, unearthed by the police on Tuesday once again exposed the contradictions in Kerala society with high literacy and excellent social indicators together with medieval practices and beliefs
While those outside the state maybe surprised to hear of such barbaric and regressive incidents from Kerala, they come as no surprise to people familiar with tradition of black magic and occult worship here. Interestingly, the clout of the occult is not limited to Hindus and has adherent across all religions. The ubiquitous demon Kuttichathan, believed to have evil powers, temples dedicated to black magic in Thrissur district which is also considered the cultural capital of Kerala are a sharp pointer to the paradox of Kerala. The mushrooming of occult dens with weekly rituals on auspicious days promising prosperity and instant luck to devotees in several villages also are a pointer to the psyche of the people despite the high rates of literacy and education.
Babiya, the vegan crocodile
The rituals and myths surrounding the death of a crocodile in Kasargod district recently is a case in point. Babiya, the crocodile lived in in the temple pond of the Ananthapadmanabha Temple in Kumbala in Kasargod. It was laid to rest with all sacred rituals by the temple priests. The devotees attributed divinity to the creature as it had allegedly eaten only vegetarian food like jaggery, coconut pieces and rice, and never attacked any other creatures or humans. The reptile was offered temple prasadam (offering) twice every day after poojas at the temple. Hundreds of devotees paid homage to Babiya after its death.
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Among the Christian community, there are secluded groups that worship Satan at Black Mass. There have been complaints from Christian groups in Kochi regarding the existence of such secret ‘Black Mass’ dens. As with other occult worship, instant riches and avenging foes are the two immediate promises that attract many into the secret cult.
Innumerable stories are told of a Christian priest, late Kadamattathu Kathanar, of Kadamattam near Kolenchery in Ernakulam, to whom believers attributed extraordinary and magical powers, including fighting evil powers, saving souls from the clutches of ghosts, curing victims from chronic diseases. The priest has been the subject of several films, plays and TV serials.
There have been complaints from Christian groups in Kochi regarding the existence of such secret ‘Black Mass’ dens. As with other occult worship, instant riches and avenging foes are the two immediate promises that attract many into the secret cult
Even today there are priests who ‘specialize’ in ceremonies to ‘save’ many souls from the clutches of Satan and other evil forces. There are many Christian retreat centres in Kerala which offer cures from chronic diseases and curses through the blessings of the head priest who claims to have supernatural powers.
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Even so, Tuesday’s discoveries by the police are the first reported instances of human sacrifice in Kerala. Following the confessions of Singh and Laila, the police have started re-investigating other cases of missing persons which were closed due to lack of evidence. Shafi, one of the accused, has a history of serious criminal offences and his interrogation may reveal more cases of human sacrifice, sources in the police said. He had allegedly offered huge sums of money to many women engaged in selling lottery tickets in Ernakulam city, offering them better jobs etc. However he is yet to reveal anything to the police.
It was a series of such extremely regressive religious customs and traditions that prompted Swami Vivekananda to call Kerala the “Lunatic Asylum” way back in 1892. It seems the state despite the tag of being ‘progressive’, has to move a long way to shake off regressive trends in the name of spirituality.
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