This for the first time that purification rites were performed at the Sabarimala Ayyappa temple for the entry of women of child-bearing age to the temple.
Talking to The Hindu , chief priest (Tantri) Kandararu Rajeevararu said the rites were performed in consultation with Devaswom Executive Officer D.Sudheeshkumar and Melsanthi (head priest) V.N. Vasudevan Namboodiri after it was confirmed that the ritualistic practices were violated by two young women. The purification rites included ‘panchapunyahom’, ‘praasada-shudhi’, ‘bimba-shudhi’ etc.
Mr. Rajeevararu said he, being the hereditary chief priest, was duty-bound to protect the tantric traditions and practices at Sabarimala that treated entry of women in the menstruating age a violation of custom and practices.
“The unique tantric tradition and practices at Sabarimala, where the presiding deity is in the form of a persistent bachelor (Naishtik Brahmachari), seldom permit worship by women in the child-bearing age. It should not be treated as a ban on women’s entry as there is no restriction for children below the age of 10 years and women above the age of 50 years to undertake Sabarimala pilgrimage,” he said. Mr. Rajeevararu said purification rites were being performed as a custom prior to the annual temple festival, Mandalapuja, Makaravilakku festival etc. The shudhi-kriya prior to the Makaravilakku festival would be held on January 12 and 13.
For the last five centuries, in almost every temple in Kerala, tantris follow the rituals prescribed in the three trantric texts - Tantra Samucchaya, Sesha Samucchaya and Kuzhikkaatt Paccha, says Akkeeramon Kalidasan Bhattathirippad, patron of the Aluva Tantra Vidya Peedhom.
Pandalam Palace managing committee general secretary M.N. Narayana Varma said the Tantri was the last word on matters relating to ritualistic practices at Sabarimala.