The long-standing debate over allowing non-Hindus to enter temples in Kerala received support from a rather unexpected quarters on Monday—the Guruvayur temple Thanthri, Chennas Dinesan Namboothiripad.
Even when some of the other Hindu temples in the state does allow the entry of all believers irrespective of their religion, Guruvayur temple has always insisted on a certificate from the Arya Samajam in Kozhikode, to allow entry to a non-Hindu. In the absence of this, a purification ceremony is conducted otherwise.
Saying that temple traditions must be redefined according to the changing times, Dinesan Namboothiripad said, "There should be an open discussion among all the stakeholders regarding the topic. From that discussion, we need to arrive at how we will allow entry to non-Hindus, what is to be done, and other related issues. Only the government can take such a decision, they should do so."
The temple priest's remarks welcoming the entry of non-Hindus to temples was taken positively by the Left Democratic Front (LDF) government.
Welcoming the statement, Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran said that Dinesan Namboodiripad’s opinion has much relevance in today's times. The minister promised that the government will hold discussions with the Devaswom board regarding the matter.
Not just the ruling party CPI (M), but opposition Congress party too, welcomed Dinesan Namboothiripad's remarks.
"Now a consensus is needed. Talks should be held with the temple priests, social and cultural organisations besides political parties," Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala was quoted as saying by IANS.
Thanthri family objects
Although Dinesan Namboothiripad's statement is being celebrated, the Thanthri family clarified on Tuesday, that the family does not share Dinesan's opinion in the matter.
Not only did the Thanthri's family distance themselves from Dinesan's views, but also said that his opinion needn't be taken seriously.
The family said in a press statement that media reports claiming that the Thanthri family is in favour of allowing entry to non-Hindus was false.
"The opinion that non-Hindus must be allowed entry is the individual opinion of only one member of the thanthri family. The family does not agree to this point of view. Moreover, Narayanan Namboothiripad is the head of the family and the priest of Guruvayur temple," reads the statement.
The statement from the family does not take Dinesan Namboothiripad's name in its one-page release.