Sabarimala row: TDB disagrees with head priest's stand

Sabarimala row: TDB disagrees with head priest's stand

Devotees wait in queues inside the premises of the Sabarimala temple in Pathanamthitta district. Reuters file photo

The statement by Sabarimala temple chief priest Kantararu Rajeevaru, that the sanctum sanctorum of the temple would be closed if young women entered the temple, has set off criticism from within the TDB.

Public Works Minister G Sudhakaran also criticised the head priest’s statement which forced police to drop plans to escort two women to the hill shrine on Friday.

Sudhakaran, a top CPM leader and former Devaswom minister, said the statement was similar to announcing the closure of shops during a shutdown.

On Friday, the Sannidhanam witnessed unprecedented scenes as a group of priests staged a sit-in protest near the 18 steps leading to the shrine, against the entry of the two women to the temple.

The Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) which manages the administration of the temple is reported to have sought an explanation from the priests who staged the protest.

The devotees’ agitation against young women’s entry to the temple has gathered momentum following support of members of the tantri (head priest) family and the erstwhile royal family of Pandalam, former custodians of the shrine.

Initially termed by the ruling CPM as a politically motivated protest, the agitation against the Supreme Court judgement is increasingly seeing participation by pilgrims to the shrine.