Move allowing non-Hindus in Guruvayur feast revoked

Guruvayur Devaswom chairman K B Mohandas said the tantri contended that the feast had to follow certain norms since dishes made as offerings to the deity are served in it.

A week after announcing a landmark decision to allow non-Hindus to attend the ceremonial feast at the Sri Krishna Temple in Guruvayur, the temple authorities have retracted the move in the wake of opposition by the tantri (chief priest).

Chief priest P Chennas Narayanan Nampoothiripad raised objection to the entry of non-Hindus at the feast, contending that it would impact the temple's ritualistic traditions.

The temple administrators have decided against setting off a controversy over the issue but maintained that the decision was only being "temporarily" stalled.

In a letter sent to Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran, the tantri said the move — cleared by the Devaswom Administrative Committee — was in conflict with long-standing traditions in the temple, where the restriction on non-Hindus' entry has remained a contentious issue.

The administrators said they were ready for a debate with the tantri on the issue, but Nampoothiripad chose not to attend Tuesday's meeting in which the original decision was revoked.

Guruvayur Devaswom chairman K B Mohandas said the tantri contended that the feast had to follow certain norms since dishes made as offerings to the deity are served in it.

"The feast, however, has only a few dishes made as offerings. Though the feast is termed prasada oottu (distribution of prasadam), what actually happens here is annadanam (free distribution of food). But since the issue has now been linked to the rituals, we've decided to keep the move on hold," Mohandas told DH.

The committee, last week, also lifted the restrictions on devotees entering the oottupura (dining hall) in shirts and trousers, a decision that also stands revoked now.

Mohandas said a devaprashnam (an astrological procedure to interpret the will of the deity), originally scheduled for another issue, would now also cover the oottupura restrictions.

He said there was no question about the committee bypassing the tantri on the matter since the dining hall was situated outside of the temple complex.

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