Thiruvananthapuram: The meeting between the Sabarimala Temple board and the stakeholders of the rituals at the shrine ended without reaching a consensus on filing a review petition against the Supreme Court’s verdict allowing women of all age groups to enter the temple.
The meeting was also attended by the royal family of the Pandalam and the family of the thantri (priest).
Talking to reporters, president of the managing committee of the Pandalam palace Sasikumar Varma said that the board could not commit to the demands of the royal family to file a review petition against the top court’s order.
“We have urged Devaswom Board to file a review petition. Until it is disposed off status quo should be maintained,” said Varma.
“Board said that they can discuss about review petition on 19 Oct. We’re upset that they’re unwilling to discuss it today. Meeting wasn’t satisfactory. We came out of meeting because they’re not ready to accept our demands,” he added.
TDB President A Padmakumar said that the Board would meet again on Friday to decide the next course of legal action, including the review petition against the apex court’s verdict.
Kerala has been witnessing intense protests including prayer marches and mass rallies by Lord Ayyappa devotees and right-wing outfits against the implementation of the Apex court verdict.
On September 28, a five-judge Constitution bench, headed by then Chief Justice Dipak Misra, lifted the ban on the entry of women of menstrual age into the shrine. The doors of the revered shrine dedicated to Lord Ayyappa is scheduled to open on October 17.
Earlier, the temple board had expressed its agreement and willingness towards implementing the Supreme Court’s order to allow women of all age groups into the temple. However, it later diluted its stand amid the increasing protests and outcry.
Lok Sabha MP Urges Centre to Pass Ordinance Against SC Verdict
Meanwhile, Lok Sabha MP Anto Antony, who represents Pathanamthitta constituency under which the Sabarimala hill shrine comes, Tuesday urged the Centre to issue an ordinance to get around the Supreme Court order allowing entry of women in all age groups in the holy temple.
“The Sabarimala temple will open for monthly pooja tomorrow evening. We all are very concerned. This time, the centuries’ old pilgrimage to Sabarimala, which is a festival of all faiths, is in the shadow of conflicts.
The Apex Court verdict permitting women of all age groups into the shrine have been opposed by all including the people from other faiths,” Antony told PTI after addressing the dharna.
The dharna, held in Erumely, a small town where a mosque named after a Muslim saint Vavar, considered a close friend of Lord Ayyappa, was attended by women from all faiths including Hindu, Christian and Muslim associated with the Congress-led UDF.
A visit to the Vavar mosque is an integral part of the pilgrimage to Sabarimala.
Antony said an unprecedented situation has evolved in Sabarimala before commencing the annual pilgrim season next month.
“You see only one thing in the streets–protests by men, women and children against the Supreme Court verdict. This is the time for them to arrange facilities for welcoming crores of devotees visiting the hill shrine from the world over.
No such activities are done this time around. Instead, you see only the protests by our people–the hosts chanting Ayyappa mantra,” he said.
Urging the Centre to issue the ordinance, the Congress MP said he had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in this regard.
“I, as the MP representing the constituency in which Sabarimala temple and important pilgrim centres associated with it come, have urged the PM to issue the ordinance to stop entry of women of all age groups into the hill shrine, where “Lord Ayyappa’s character is a ‘Naishtika Brahmachari’ (eternal celibate),” he said.
“Unfortunately, I haven’t got any response from the Prime Minister so far,” he lamented.
Further, Antony said he was certain that the situation could be brought to normalcy if the Central government issued the ordinance to get around the Supreme Court verdict.
He said an ordinance can be brought in line with the one such legal step taken when the Supreme Court banned jallikattu, a bull-taming sport in Tamil Nadu.
Devotees Check Cars, Buses; Force Women Pilgrims to go Back
Ahead of the opening of the Lord Ayappa Temple tomorrow for monthly pooja, tensions looms large at Nilackal – the main gateway to the Sabarimala – as devotees stopped vehicles and prevented women of the “banned” age group from trekking to the holy hill.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, however, told reporters that no one would be allowed to block devotees from proceeding to Sabarimala.
Groups of women devotees including senior citizens, clad in traditional sarees, could be seen stopping each and every vehicle at Nilackal, the base camp located about 20 kms away from Sabarimala hill top.
Besides private vehicles, devotees even stopped and inspected Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) buses and asked young women to get out of it.
Very few police personnel were present when the incidents happened.
One of the woman agitator said, “No woman belonging to the banned age group of 10-50 will be allowed to travel further from Nilackal and offer worship at the shrine” when it opens for the monthly pooja tomorrow evening.
The temple would be closed on October 22 after the five-day monthly puja during the Malayalam month of Thulam.
Chanting ‘swamiya saranam Ayyappa’ matras aloud and clapping their hands, women devotee had been inspecting vehicles at various points en route to Sabarimala since last evening.
Local television channels reported that some college students, who were sporting black colour dresses, were asked to get out of a bus they were travelling in, by devotees alleging that they were on their way to Sabarimala.
Ayyappa devotees wear black colour dress and a bead chain during the pilgrimage.
Women journalists, who tried to reach the hill temple as part of their official assignments, were also stopped at the base camp.
Vijayan, however, warned of stern action against those who prevent devotees.
“Stern action will be taken against anyone who prevents devotees from going to Sabarimala,” Vijayan told reporters here.
Vijayan also made it clear that the government has no intention to file a review petition and would implement the apex court order.
The chief minister said the government has taken a stand on the issue that there should not be any discrimination on the basis of gender.
However, the government has clarified that it would not bring in any law to put its policy into practice.
“But, will go by what the Supreme Court says,” Vijayan said.