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Image Of 3-Year-Old 'Krishna' At Kerala Festival Triggers Rage

The procession in Kerala’s Kannur where a child dressed as Lord Krishna was tied up for 2 hours.

Thiruvananthapuram:  In presence of the police and his own parents, a three-year-old spent nearly 2 hours in the blistering sun, tied on a slanting green leaf-shaped board on a tableau. Dressed as Lord Krishna, he was the heart of a procession meant to celebrate the birth of the god held in Kerala’s Kannur earlier this week.

A photograph of the child, widely circulated on social media, has evoked rage and the state’s child rights panel has sought a detailed report from district administration of Kannur. While the child did not cry for help, eyewitnesses say he was clearly in some pain and discomfort.

“Initially, I thought it was a statue tied to the structure. And then I saw the hands and legs move,” a local, Sreekant Uma Prabhakaran wrote in a Facebook post. “I saw the child, less than three years old, close his eyes, move his head to protect himself from the sun… I was reminded of crucified Christ,” the post further read.

The 26-year-old said he had immediately called the Childline, a pan-India children’s rights group. But its officials, he said, were lukewarm in their response and didn’t take immediate action.

“We immediately informed the police, who in turn had told us that the child’s parents were present and police officers were also posted along the procession’s route,” Childline Kannur Coordinator Amaljith Thomas told NDTV. The organisation, he said, was still trying to “get through to the parents”.

Processions to celebrate Sri Krishna Jayanthi are traditional in Kerala, the highlight of which is children dressed as Lord Krishna.

“I have asked a detailed report from Kannur Police as well as the District Collector on what happened with that child. Prima facie, there seems to be violation of child rights, even if parental consent was involved in this case,” Shobha Koshy, Chairperson of Kerala State Commission For the Protection Of Child Rights told NDTV.

In north India, the popular Dahi Handi celebrations held around Janmashtami, lead to injuries that can sometimes be fatal. In this traditional re-enactment of the myth of Lord Krishna stealing butter or curds, young children climb a human pyramid, sometimes two-stories high, to reach a pot hung above.  

This year, the Bombay high court accepted the state government’s assertion that Dahi Handi is an “adventure sport”, the court agreed to lower the age limit for participating ‘Govindas’ to 14.