The devil in God’s own country: Are Satan worshipping cults on the rise in Kerala?

The Kerala police, which was probing a multiple murder in the state capital of Thiruvananthapuram in the first week of April, rejected the defence of the accused that he committed the heinous crime as part of an experiment to “detach human souls from their bodies”, but warned people against clandestine groups promoting such bizarre practices, gaining ground in the state.

The investigators had taken the statement of accused, Cadell Jeanson Raja, 30, who confessed to murdering his parents, sister and aunt with an axe, seriously, since he had shown some signs of delusional disorders during the initial interrogation. However, Raja changed his version when he was questioned further with the help of a psychologist. The latest reason he advanced for committing the crime is his animosity against his father for his “immoral activities”.

A senior police official associated with the investigation said that they do not fully subscribe to the fresh claim of the accused. He told Firstpost that they will reach a conclusion on the motive behind the crime only after examining all aspects since Raja is a ‘tough customer’.

“The accused did not make any attempt to escape from the police. Though he went to Chennai after committing the crime, he returned to the city in a couple of days knowing fully well that the police were after him. When we arrested him, he readily confessed to the crime. He did not show any remorse over the murders. On the contrary, he appeared proud in claiming that he has ‘freed’ his family members,” said the official, who did not want to be identified.

The police investigation has revealed that Raja was obsessed with occult practices. He reportedly told the investigators that he was researching the subject for decades without the knowledge of his family. He mostly confined himself to his room, and none of his neighbours knew anything about him.

The police believe that the accused might have taken to astral projection as part of the devil (satanic) worship which is gaining ground in a big way in the state. Raja had also told the police officials, who arrested him, that he was involved in satanic worship.

Intelligence officials claim that satan worshippers are trying to spread their net in the state and have warned the people against coming under their spell. The cult gained ground in Kerala following the tourism boom.

The Satan cult disagrees on the fundamental principles of Christianity, according to this report, which further states, Satan worshippers are against everything that is deemed sacred by the church. Black Mass is the main ritual of Satan worshippers. Though Black Mass is a parody of the Holy Mass in Christianity, it has reportedly turned into the desecration of anything considered to be divine by other religions, including Hinduism and Islam. The desecration of communion bread (host) is reported to be an important aspect of Black Mass.

Satanic rituals include sacrilegious sexual behaviour, human and animal sacrifices, drinking wine out of a human skull, the recital of Biblical hymns backwards and use of pagan occult symbols, according to a priest in Kochi.

“Satan is invoked by using a desecrated host. They mostly steal consecrated hosts from churches and desecrate it by defecating and urinating on it. Impure blood and urine collected in a human skull, triangle-shaped slices of bread etc are other things used for the ‘black mass’ which is usually held on the 13th of every month,” the priest said.

Recent reports of an increase in the incidents of disappearance or theft of consecrated hosts from many Catholic churches in the state is viewed as a sign of the growing penetration of Satan worshippers in the state. Several churches in the state reported theft or attempted theft of consecrated hosts recently.

There have also been reports of some Christian devotees selling consecrated hosts to the Satan worshippers. The Catholic priest at Kochi said that a girl from his parish was caught for selling consecrated host. The parents found out after they noticed unexplained cash credits in the girl’s bank account. The priest said that the girl later confessed the crime and made penance for it.

Selling consecrated hosts to Satan worshippers is considered lucrative since they are ready to pay even up to Rs 1 lakh for a consecrated host, the priest told Firstpost on condition of anonymity. The increase in thefts and disappearance of consecrated hosts has forced the Church officials to be vigilant in handling the hosts.

Authorities at the St James Church, Cheranallore, under the Archdiocese of Verapoly in Ernakulam district, have stopped giving communion bread in hand, after it was found that the bread is taken away for selling to the Satan worshippers.

Sex and drugs seem to be the main attractions of Satan worship. Since these two form a part of satanic rituals, many believe that they can get both easily if they join a satanic cult. There have also been sexual abuse of children by the Satan worshippers. The Kerala police had in 2016 August arrested 11 people, who were part of Satan cult, for sexually abusing a Class 11 student for years.

The police do not rule out the involvement of the drug mafia in the growth of this cult, especially since it offers them a chance to make quick money. Satan worshippers spread their message through tattoos, T-shirts and inverted crosses. These symbols are available across Kerala.

Journalist Rajeev Sivshankar, who studied the subject for his book (Thamovedam), said that the state’s commercial capital of Kochi is the main hub of the satanic cult in the state. The cult originated in Fort Kochi, a major tourist centre. It was believed to have been brought by French tourists in early 2000. The cult contains mostly Christians and Hindus. Most of them are youths.

Rajeev said that the cult was fast spreading its wings in Kerala. He said that the Satan worshippers had already established churches in seven out of 14 districts in the state. The service is conducted mostly in isolated houses or apartments.

He said that the organisers of ‘Satan seva‘ have been luring people by making fake claims that it can solve their problems and bring riches, besides destroying their enemies. It’s mainly businessmen, who have suffered losses in their business, who are participating in the Black mass, for which the organisers charge Rs 30,000 per person, Rajeev said.

A Hindu cult in the state has also been offering similar rituals that include black arts since centuries for those seeking fortunes and relief from sufferings. The sect, which is based at Peringottukara village in Thrissur, worship a dark avatar of Vishnu, who rides a buffalo, as their deity.

The puja, which involves animal sacrifice, is performed every Friday and the priest who conducts the rituals inside the temple, comes out, meets people individually and prescribes specific offerings to the deity for specific needs.

People from all faiths throng the village, which has 17 major and 60 small temples, in an area of 10 square kilometres offering the puja. The temples charge 10 percent of the ‘profit’ if the worshippers benefit from the ritual.

A report in Times of India said that many of these temples had amassed huge wealth through the rituals. Apart from the religious practices, some of them are also running businesses. An Income Tax raid in one such temple in 2003 had led to seizure of Rs 17 lakhs in unaccounted receipts. The organisers of the cult lure people by placing advertisements in the newspapers and television channels saying their rituals will help believers prosper. Quoting advertising industry circles, the TOI report said that that each temple was spending lakhs of rupees on advertisements every year.

Finding a steady flow of Christians to these temples, the Catholic Church in Kerala has issued a warning to their followers not to practice the chathan service.

The police, who have warned people against those spreading superstition and promoting black magic in the name of faith, are unable to do any thing to prevent such activities as Kerala has no law to deal with such cases.

Though the previous Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) government made an attempt to enact a law similar to the Maharashtra Anti-Superstition and Black Magic Act (2013), the draft bill has not found it way to the State Assembly so far.

A senior police officer told Firstpost there was no provision in the existing laws to act against those promoting ‘Satan seva‘ and ‘chathan seva‘. “The law allows the enforcement agency to act only if they receive a complaint about any harm caused to them by those indulging in occult practices,” he said.

The officer agreed that a law to check these activities was needed since incidents of superstition and black magic were thriving in the state despite its high literacy rate. He said that those promoting these practices were actually exploiting the people by promising them impossible things.

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