By Shevlin Sebastian
Photos: The Bhagavathy Shrine; (from left): Rose Tharakan (extreme left) handing over the property deeds to Surendran, president of the Vadakkinezhath Bhagavathi Temple Trust. Others in the photo include Hormis Tharakan, former Director-General of Kerala Police, Ward Member Binu Subhagan, Ezhupunna Panchayat President Shyamalakumari, State Finance Minister Thomas Isaac and Alappuzha MP AM Ariff
It was a cloudy afternoon on September 10. But the mood was festive on the island of Kakkathuruthu (Island of Crows), which is 18 km from Kochi. A small white shamiana, with a conical top, had been put up.
On the dais, there were dignitaries like Finance Minister Thomas Isaac, the Alappuzha MP Ariff AM, former director-general of Kerala Police, Hormis Tharakan, his sister-in-law Rose and the Ezhupunna Panchayat President Shyamalakumari and Ward member Binu Subhagan. On the table in front was a photo of Rose’s husband, PK Joseph Tharakan, who passed away on August 15, 2016, at the age of 77.
On the island live 214 families, who comprise farmers and fishermen. While there is a resort on one side, called ‘Kayal Island Resort’, which is run by entrepreneur Maneesha Panicker, a large section of the island is owned by the Tharakan family.
The people had gathered for a giving-away ceremony. For years, the people would get permission and have annual prayers at a small Bhagavathy shrine on Joseph Tharakan’s land. Now, in memory of Joseph, Rose was giving away six cents, and another six has been bought by the islanders. “The local people had no place for worship on the island,” says Hormis. “So, now, a proper temple can be put up.”
Interestingly, Kochi Biennale co-founder Riyas Komu has offered to design the temple. He had visited the island along with Hormis and was much taken up the simplicity of the people, and the untouched nature of the island. “If the people agree for me to do it, then I will take into account the beliefs and rituals which are followed,” he says. “The aim is to use the local resources and set up an indigenous space for worship.”
After the ceremony, it was the turn of folk singer Rashmi Satheesh. And as Maneesha says, “The beautiful evening was brought to life by Rashmi who is also an actor and activist. As soon as the islanders heard her deep voice and revolutionary lyrics, they felt an instant camaraderie and within minutes everyone was dancing,” she says.
Incidentally, Kakkathuruthu hit the international spotlight when it was featured in the National Geographic feature, 'Around The World in 24 hours': one exotic place is featured for every hour. For Kakkathuruthu, the time selected was 6 p.m., for its sunset.
But now it is going to a perpetual sunrise for the villagers, who will have a place of worship they can call their own.
(The New Indian Express, Kochi)