Thiruvananthapuram: While the Supreme Court verdict challenged an old practice, the subsequent opening of the gates for five days seems to have frayed many nerves and discordant notes can be heard from across the board. Even as women have been struggling to visit the shrine and protesters have been preventing them from doing so for the third day in a row on Friday, the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB), which administers the hill shrine, has promised a compromise. But, its former president P Gopalakrishnan placed his foot firmly in his mouth by commenting on the Supreme Court verdict. He said, “This is agenda driven. Police are also involved in it…This is not a place for sex tourism. This is the abode of Lord Ayappa.” (Catch Day 3 LIVE Updates Here) Also Read - With COVID Guidelines in Place, Kerala’s Sabarimala Temple to Open For Pilgrims From Nov 16
While Gopalakrishnan might have gone overboard in equating women devotees paying obeisance to Lord Ayyappa with sex tourism, the very idea behind barring women of menstrual age from visiting the temple is in keeping with the notion of the Lord being a celibate. In fact, among the protesters against the Supreme Court order are many women too, who want to go by age-old beliefs. Also Read - Sabarimala Latest News: Shrine Won't Open to Public For Monthly Prayers, Temple Festival Also Cancelled
Meanwhile, the current TDB President A Padmakumar said that the board was ready for any sort of compromise to end the protest and bring normalcy. “We are not for any politics over the issue,” he told reporters. He said the TDB, which manages over 1,200 temples in the state, would hold talks with the stakeholders to continue to find a solution. Also Read - Facility For Sanitisation, no More Than 10 Devotees at a Time: Here's How Temples in Kerala Might Reopen
Last week’s meeting attended by various stakeholders of the shrine, including temple tantri (head priest), the Pandalam royal family, ‘Ayyappa Seva Samajam’ and ‘Yoga Kshema Sabha’, had failed to arrive at an agreement as the TDB stuck to its stand of not going for a review plea.
Representatives of the Pandalam royal family had walked out as TDB refused to concede their demand to take a decision on filing the review plea Tuesday itself. The shrine will close on October 22 after the five-day monthly puja during the Malayalam month of Thulam.