The Kochi Devaswom Board has suspended the Melshanti (head priest) of Chottanikara Bhagavati Temple after following a complaint against him for allegedly seeking ‘Dakshina' online.
According to reports, the Devaswom Board suspended temple Melshanti MK Satheesh Namboothiri following the complaint. Reportedly, a vigilance team found a QR code scanning card with the Melshanti’s name and signature at the Pushpanjali prasadam distribution counter of priests at the temple. Following this, the Kochi Devaswom Board suspended the priest. Reportedly, Devaswom Board Assistant Commissioner M G Jagadeesh will conduct an extensive investigation into the matter.
The Melshanti has been charged with serious negligence for accepting money from devotees directly to the bank account without providing receipts. However, according to reports, the suspended Melshanti said that he was appointed to the Chottanikara temple just before the Covid-19 pandemic. Therefore, a friend created the QR code for his safety. He also said that he has not accepted any online transaction.
According to the Devaswom Board rules, temple priests are not authorized to collect any contributions from devotees.
However, this is not the first time the Cochin Devaswom Board has suspended a priest for taking Dakshina. In 2018, when Machad Thiruvanikavu Temple priest was suspended on charges of accepting a ‘Dakshina of Rs 20, that led to social media outrage. However, the Kerala High Court came to the then suspended priest’s rescue and directed the Cochin Devaswom Board to reinstate him.