Royal family members of Travancore dusting sand off their feet when they emerge from the shrine.
Thiruvananthapuram Sree Padmanabha Swamy temple’s glittering gems are valued and tagged; it’s not just the diamonds that shine but also the royal family of the erstwhile princely state of Travancore.
It’s an ode to the family’s unflinching devotion and
integrity that not a penny has gone missing from the bil lions stored in the cellars of the centuries-old shrine ad ministered by the royals.
What makes the family’s story vis-à-vis the temple all the more compelling is tha the rulers always knew of the riches, yet never touched them. “The riches are mentioned in the book “Prad hanapetta Mathilakom Records” (Important Mathilakom Records) compiled by acclaimed Malayalam poet
Ulloor S Parameswara Iyer and published in 1941. They also figure in the “Kottaram” (Palace) manual which runs into 12 volumes,” says noted historian M G Sasibhushan “These records refer to the sacred cellars from which treasure is being dug out.”
Observers talk of the symbolic significance of the practice of royal family members dusting sand off their feet when they emerge from the shrine. “It was meant to con vey that the family members would not take home or misappropriate even a speck of sand belonging to Padmanabha,” they say. In fact, the present head, Uthradom Thiruna Marthanda Varma, religious ly follows the rule of paying of Rs 151 and 55 paise to the temple if he fails to make it to the shrine on any day.
“Though the kingdom of Travancore lapsed in 1949 following the Instrument of Accession with the Union of India, the management of the temple remained with the royal family by virtue of a covenant.
The family, which ruled over erstwhile Travancore has had a long lineage of vi sionary rulers. In fact, it wa a bold move by the first Marthanda Varma in 1750 that inextricably bonded the temple and the palace. The king donated the wealth of the kingdom to the deity Padmanabha (Lord Vishnu) an ruled the state as “Padmanabha Dasa” (servant of Padmanabha).
Some important names i the family are Swathi Thirunal (1813-1846), leg endary Carnatic musician who promoted English education and the last king Chithira Thirunal Bala Rama Varma (1912-1991), who abolished the death sentence making Travancore the first territory in India to do so. The last king issued the landmark Temple Entry Proclamation in 1936 doing away with the ban on “untouchables” entering temples.
Our present politicians must follow the footstep of Travancore rulers in maintaining Temple properties.