The unilateral stand taken by the CPM-led government in Kerala to implement Supreme Court’s verdict on allowing women of all ages into Sabarimala shrine, ignoring the sentiments and religious beliefs of vast majority of women, is leading to stalemate on the functioning of the shrine itself. Due to growing protests by Ayyappa devotees against the Supreme Court verdict allowing , the families of the temple Thantri (priest) and the royals who patronised the shrine, are likely to close down the temple indefinitely for ‘Punyaham’ (a ritual performed for cleansing the temple).
The priest’s family reiterated that they are the authority when it comes to the rituals conducted in the temple. ‘Punyaham’ should be performed, when there is any violation in routines. The same holds when women between the ages of 10 and 50 enter the temple.
Reports suggest that the Supreme Court or the government do not have the authority concerning the performance of the ritual. If the Supreme Court order is implemented in letter and spirit, ‘Punyaham’ must be conducted frequently, which is supposed to be practically impossible as the temple needs to remain closed while the cleansing is done.
Temples are as important as their deities, and any form of dilution in temple rituals will make the shrine like any ordinary place. Once the SC verdict is implemented, the priest and the royal family would have to close down the temple to restore the sanctity of the temple, Pandalam Royal Family Representative Kerala Varma Raja was reported as saying.
Meanwhile, thousands of BJP workers, mostly women, chanting mantras of Lord Ayyappa and waving flags, staged protests at Thiruvananthapuram, the capital city of Kerala, yesterday. In the aftermath of the Kerala government’s refusal to file a review petition and its undue resolve in implementing the SC ruling, a large number of workers including a majority of women devotees virtually took over the streets in the city, staging protests against the Communist government in state.
The protest march, which began on 10 October at Pandalam, reached its zenith at the capital city, where BJP general secretary P Muralidhar Rao berated Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan for the government’s decision against filing a review petition. “Not only in Kerala, but Lord Ayyappa devotees across the country are broken by the Sabarimala crisis, and the state government is responsible for it,” he added.