Travancore royals against ‘commercialisation’ of temple riches

Thiruvananthapuram: Amid ongoing discussions on the proposal of displaying priceless treasures of the Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple here in a hi-tech museum, the Travancore royal family today said they were against the ‘commercialisation’ of the God’s sacred riches.

The family, who once owned and managed the centuries-old shrine dedicated to Lord Padmanabha, said they were against any plan to shift the treasures out of the temple complex located in the heart of the capital city.

However, the royal family was of the opinion that the 3D images of the selected rare jewels, now kept in sacred vaults of the temple, could be displayed in a facility on the shrine precincts itself.

But, this also can be done only after getting the concurrence of the ‘tantri’ (head priest) and other people concerned, said Aditya Varma, a member of the Travancore royal family.

Confirming that both the Union and State governments had approached the family with the proposal of the museum, Varma said the entire matter regarding the temple affairs and wealth was pending before the Supreme Court.

“Both Union Minister of Tourism Alphons Kannanthanam and his State counterpart Kadakampally Surendran recently brought before us their proposal of setting up a hi-tech musum to exhibit the rare treasures of the temple,” Aditya Varma told PTI.

“But, we have made it clear that we are against any kind of commercialisation of sacred temple treasures. Devotees also have concerns in this regard,” he said. Nobody could take a final decision on the matter unless the apex court takes a stand, the royal scion said.

He said the government proposal was to set up a hi-tech museum at a property-owned by the royal family near the shrine and display the treasures. “But, we are not favouring of taking out the jewellery out of the temple complex. As both the governments are for displaying the temple treasures in the musuem, it is okay to showcase the 3D images of the selected ornaments in the museum,” Varma said.

“But that should also be without violating any of the traditions of the shrine and hurting the sentiments of devotees,” he said. Varma also expressed concern over the safety of the sacred treasures if they are taken out of the temple complex.

Echoing the sentiments of the royals, Krishnan, an ardent devotee, said Lord Padmanabha’s jewels are not for exhibiting in a museum. “Now itself, people who come from various parts of the county first ask about the treasures instead of going for darshan. Once the museum comes up, we do not know, what will happen,” he told PTI.

As a local resident, Krishnan also expressed fear over the safety of the treasures even though the temple is now under high security. The sprawling Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple, an architectural splendour in granite, shot into fame recently after the discovery of priceless treasures in its secret vaults.

Five of the six cellars of the historic temple, closed for several decades, were ordered to be opened by the Supreme Court to prepare an inventory while considering a private petition in 2011.

According to sources, a vast collection of gold and silver ornaments, coins, silver and brass platters, stone-studded crowns and glittering gold-coated parasols and may other objects of great intrinsic and antique value were reportedly found in the vaults.

Lord Padmanabha is the family deity of the Travancore royals, who had dedicated their kingdom to the deity and pledged that they would live as ‘padmanabha dasas’ (servants of Lord Padmanabha). The ancient shrine is now managed by a Supreme Court- appointed committee headed by additional district judge.

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