Speaking to reporters on Friday, Travancore Devaswom Board President Adv. Padmakumar said that the board had not discussed the removal of current thanthri (head priest) Kandararu Rajeevaru. Onmanorama reports that he mentioned that such information about the impending removal of the thanthri was being spread to cause problems in the upcoming Makaravilaku puja.
According to the Hindustan Times, Adv Padmakumar said, “The Board has not discussed the removal of Rajeevaru. We have only given notice to the thantri, seeking an explanation regarding the purification ritual. Let him give his reply. Now the focus is only on Makaravilakku, which falls on January 14.”
The TDB president later added, “How can we remove the Sabarimala thantri all of a sudden? We have the Devaswom Manual. There are two Supreme Court verdicts and several High Court rulings regarding the powers and appointments of the head priests. We can take a decision only after taking into account all of these. This is a complicated matter."
Current Sabarimala thanthri Kandararu Rajeevaru has been embroiled in controversy ever since he ordered the Sabarimala temple to be closed and “purification” rituals to be completed after two women in their 40s, Bindu and Kanaka Durga, successfully entered the temple on January 2. In the wake of this action, the TDB issued a notice to the thanthri on Tuesday asking for a response as to why he had closed the temple and conducted the “purification” rituals. He is required to file a response within 15 days.
Meanwhile, in the aftermath of this notice being issued, both the Thanthri family and Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran have been trading remarks on the government and TDB’s right to appoint and depose people to and from the post of Sabarimala thanthri. The Thazhamon Madom, the family from which the Sabarimala thanthri is selected, issued a notice on Tuesday stating that the role of Sabarimala Thanthri was hereditary and that neither the government nor the TDB could interfere in it. On Thursday, Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran said that it was the Commissioner of the TDB who had appointed the current Sabarimala rhanthri, and that it had been the TDB Commissioner who had officially removed a previous thanthri (Kandararu Mohanararu) from his post in 2006.
The current thanthri Kanadararu Rajeevaru drew widespread criticism for conducting the “purification” rituals, with current Kerala Minister for Labour and Excise even calling him a “monster.” “The thanthri is a symbol of caste devil. He is not a Brahmin. He is a Brahmin monster. If a Brahmin becomes a monster, he will be a terror,” the minister had said.