South Asia News
Indian court defers decision on opening Kerala temple vault
Sep 16, 2011, 11:59 GMT
New Delhi - A sealed chamber in an ancient Hindu temple in Kerala state should not be opened till a stocktaking of other vaults had been completed, India's Supreme Court said Friday according to news reports.
The court said its decision was not influenced by a local superstition that opening the underground vault would bring bad luck.
The exploration of five underground chambers of the 16th-century Sri Padmanabhaswamy temple in Kerala's capital Thiruvananthapuram had yielded diamonds, rubies, gold and silver jewellery and ancient artefacts estimated to be worth billions of dollars.
The chambers were opened beginning late June after the Supreme Court upheld a lower court verdict ordering the Kerala government to take over the temple's assets from a trust controlled by the local royal family of Travancore to ensure their security.
The court said that the panel it had appointed to decide whether a sixth sealed chamber should be opened had recommended it be left unopened till the contents of the five other chambers had been recorded in photographs and video, NDTV news channel reported.
'Secret Vault B is not being opened now ... but we will take a decision and do not propose to hand over the decision to others. Impractical or superstitious decisions and security can't go hand in hand,' a two-judge bench of the Supreme Court said.
A team of priests set up by the temple authorities to decide whether the sixth vault should be opened conducted a four-day astrological ritual in August and concluded the chamber should remain sealed as it would bring bad luck to open it.
The chamber was last opened over 150 years ago, according to temple officials.
The Supreme Court also said it did not wish to break traditions. 'Somewhere down the line, a compromise has to be hammered between tradition and faith, and the security of the temple treasure,' the court said.
The Supreme Court is expected to pass orders on security aspects of the temple on Wednesday.