Sabarimala row: ‘No-donation campaign’ by devotees

Sabarimala row: ‘No-donation campaign’ by devotees

Devotees display the paper strips with the words ‘Swamy Sharnam’, which they plan to drop in offering box instead of money as part of the protest in the Sabarimala Ayyappa temple. DH photo/ B H Shivakumar

On Monday, pilgrims on a KSRTC bus from Pathanamthitta to Pampa were seen passing notes before the two-hour drive.

On the notes, the devotees had written down amounts of money — ranging from Rs 2,000 to Rs 10,000 — as an offering at the Sabarimala Ayyappa Temple. It’s these strips of paper, and not currency notes, that would be deposited in the boxes. “This is our way of protesting entry of young women to the temple,” Reju, a passenger, told DH.

Sanjith, another pilgrim, said the interests of devotees were not being protected. “The authorities have the responsibility to ensure that the devotees’ sentiments are not hurt. They run the temples with our money; we thought it was apt that we stop offering money till they fully understand our concerns,” he said.

Reju and Sanjith are members of a group of pilgrims from Adoor.

The paper strips that also have the ‘Swami Saranam’ chant written on them are being deposited in the offering boxes as part of a campaign. The Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB), which manages the administration of the Sabarimala temple, has been facing criticism by devotees over its decision to not file a review petition against the Supreme Court judgement which lifted restrictions on the entry of women aged between 10 and 50 years to the temple.

Reports quoting TDB sources said monthly revenues at the Sabarimala temple recorded a dip. “I hope the message gets across to people who run the temple before the annual season starts in November,” Ajayan, a resident of Ranni, said.

The calls for a review petition had found backing of the opposition Congress party and the BJP. The TDB, while stating that it was trying to protect traditions of Sabarimala, has not committed on filing a review plea against the judgement.