Welcome Sabarimala verdict, says Kerala government

Tensions surface over implementation

September 28, 2018 09:59 pm | Updated 09:59 pm IST - THIRUVANANTHAPURAM

The Kerala government has welcomed the Supreme Court verdict allowing women of all ages to offer worship at the Sabarimala Ayyappa temple, terming it a “historic judgment”.

Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran said the State government was of the firm view that there should not be any discrimination at any place of worship, including Sabarimala. The stipulation that women of a certain age could not offer worship at the temple was clearly a violation of human rights. This had been brought out by the verdict, he said.

The question of how the verdict should be implemented would be decided based on detailed discussions, Mr. Surendran said.

The Minister was confident that Kerala society, which had always adopted a progressive stance and altered customs in keeping with the changing times, would accept the verdict. The practice hitherto was to prevent young women from visiting the temple. This would have to go following Friday’s verdict.

It is for the Travancore Devaswom Board to make arrangements for implementation of the verdict, he added.

In consultation

Responding to the verdict, Devaswom Board President A. Padmakumar said the Board would implement the court order in consultation with the State government, the Tantri (chief priest) and representatives of the Pandalam Palace, which is by tradition linked to the temple. The Board, he said, would have to face many challenges in implementing the verdict.

Pandalam Palace Managing Committee Chairman. P. Ramavarma Raja said that as staunch believers in the rule of law, the palace would work for combined efforts by all stakeholders, mainly the devotees, to find a peaceful solution to the issue.

“It is for the State government and the Devaswom Board to rise to the occasion. Unfortunately, both the entities seemed to be eager to implement the court directive without any thought for the feelings of Ayyappa devotees across the globe.”

Chief priest’s view

Chief priest Kandararu Rajeevararu told The Hindu that there had never been any blanket ban on women’s entry to Sabarimala. The only restriction, he said, was on menstruating women offering prayers at the temple in strict adherence to “the unique tantric character of the presiding deity”. “I don’t think any woman devotee of Lord Ayyappa, who knows the customs and rituals at Sabarimala, would violate them even,” the Tantri said.

The former Board president Prayar Gopalakrishnan accused the Left Democratic Front government of having abetted the destruction of the basic tenets and traditions of Sabarimala pilgrimage by favouring the entry for all women to the temple.

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