The Kerala government has been at loggerheads with the priests of the Sabarimala shrine and the Travancore Devasom Board that manages the temple over rules the government wants the shrine to follow.
The last few days have seen constant sparring between the two sides.
Here is a quick timeline of what’s been happening:
It all started with CM Pinarayi Vijayan saying that VIP darshan at Sabarimala should be done away with and that Tirupati model should be implemented. After chairing a review meeting last Thursday, he also said that women of all age groups must be allowed to enter the temple. The CM also added that the temple should be opened on all days.
Travancore Devaswom President Prayar Gopalakrishnan turned down all the suggestions on the same day, leading to a heated argument between the two. "The temple cannot be opened on all days as it follows certain rituals and customs," Gopalakrishnan said. There is no separate queue for VIPs, he said adding only those who offer poojas for over Rs 500 are allowed to have darshan after standing in a special queue.
The Tirupati model tickets also cannot be introduced as it would amount to discriminating devotees, he said. The TDB president said only women of a particular age group are not allowed inside the temple.
A day later, BJP state chief Kummanam Rajashekharan said that decisions on temple administrations must be left to the discretion of believers and the CPI(M) should stay away from it.
Kerala Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran jumped into the fight and hit out at Prayar Gopalakrishnan for rejecting Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s suggestions over facilities at the Sabarimala temple.
Surendran said that the president had disrespected the CM by behaving rudely. The minister accused Gopalakrishnan of deliberately trying to garner media attention by doing so.
Saying that his words indicated staunch communalism, Kadakampally Surendran said that the president should not intervene in the decision on lifting the ban on entry of women of menstruating age at the temple.
Thantri Kandadraru Rajeevararu, the priest of Sabarimala temple, on Monday said the will of God should be sought over the government’s stance.
Kandadaru also rejected the Tirupati model and asked why women were in a hurry to visit the temple, maintaining that menstruating women would not be allowed as per custom. He suspected these were moves to create controversies.
Pinarayi Vijayan has kept the debate going with a new Facebook update on Mondayafternoon.
"Attempts have always been made to alienate the left from religious beliefs. Rivals have always tagged communists as people who want to uproot every temple. But people, irrespective of their religion and faith has pinned their trust on our party. It is because our party is capable of seeing beyond a person's religious identity that we are able to approach the matter of improving facilities at Sabarimala and providing guidance to Hajj pilgrims in the same way."
He then went on to elaborate on the preparations the government has implemented for the pilgrims.