HOUSTON (Diya TV) — Vijay Cheruvu has taken legal action against the Sri Ashtalakshmi Temple in Sugar Land, Texas, following claims that his 11-year-old son was branded during a religious ceremony in August 2023. According to Cheruvu, his son sustained severe burns and permanent disfigurement without consent, prompting him to seek damages exceeding $1 million.

Cheruvu’s lawsuit, targeting both the temple and its parent organization, alleges that the branding ceremony violated Texas law, regardless of religious freedoms. It is reported that nearly 100 individuals, including three minors, participated in the event.

Efforts to obtain comments from the temple and its parent organization were unsuccessful. Cheruvu’s attorney emphasized that such branding practices are uncommon in Hinduism and may be associated with traveling gurus rather than mainstream religious customs.

Cheruvu’s legal representative further stated that branding a child without consent is not permissible under Texas law, regardless of parental authorization. The lawsuit seeks damages for pain and suffering, mental anguish, and past and future medical expenses, among other claims.

The incident allegedly occurred on temple premises, where Cheruvu’s son was branded with symbols on both shoulders. Despite his Hindu background, Cheruvu maintains that branding rituals are not part of mainstream Hinduism and may be linked to specific sects or individuals rather than widespread religious practices.

Legal experts suggest that the lawsuit highlights broader concerns regarding the protection of minors in religious ceremonies. The case underscores the need for clear boundaries between religious freedom and child welfare, prompting discussions on potential legal reforms to prevent similar incidents in the future.

Cheruvu’s attorney emphasized the traumatic impact of the branding incident on the young boy, stating that he feels betrayed by those involved. The lawsuit aims to hold the temple and its parent organization accountable for their alleged negligence and failure to protect minors during religious events.

As the legal proceedings unfold, the case has sparked debates within the Hindu community about the authenticity of certain rituals and the responsibility of religious institutions to ensure the safety of their members, especially children.