THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Shutting the deity inside the sanctum sanctorum is a relatively recent phenomenon. During medieval times, the understanding was that it was only to rest that the deity entered the space. Otherwise, the belief was that the deity flitted about, or sneaked around, the vast green grove that surrounded the temple taking the form of birds or snakes. That is why in the ‘puranas’, the groves around the temple were always imbued with magic and mystery. The Tourism Department, in an attempt to revive the magic of temple premises, has decided to team up with devaswoms to transform temple premises into eco-friendly groves.
Titled ‘Harithakshethram’, the project will focus mainly on conserving and rejuvenating water sources, protecting the environment and setting up sewage treatment plants in temples. In fact, the project was pioneered by Cochin Devaswom Board early this year. Protection of water sources, environment and sewage treatment are identified as the three major focus areas. “Work is already on to protect sacred groves, ponds and ‘altharas’ associated with temples under Kochi Devaswom,” tourism and devaswom minister Kadakampally Surendran said. Sensing the potential of such a project to boost pilgrim arrivals to the state, the Tourism Department wants other devaswoms too to take a leaf out of Cochin Devaswom Board’s book.
“Perhaps we can jointly forge a plan to restore the murals and other art works of heritage value that are still found many of our temples,” Mr Surendran said. However, the most important component of ‘Harithakshethram’ would be the setting up of sewage treatment plants in temples. Such a plant is already under construction in Chottanikara temple under CDB. Malabar Devaswom Board has already installed a waste water treatment plant in Sree Thirumandamkunnu temple using Devaswom funds. “Sewage plants will be set up in Sabarimala as part of the master plan. Likewise, we will set up such plants in all major temples,” Mr Surendran said.