On Wednesday morning, two women below the age of 50 entered Sabarimala temple for the first time, after the SC verdict in September 2018.

Conspiracy to hurt religious people Chennithala others react on women in Sabarimala
news Sabarimala Wednesday, January 02, 2019 - 16:46

Leaders from across the political spectrum as well as other stakeholders have voiced their opinions after two women below the age of 50 entered the Sabarimala temple. Advocate Bindu Hariharan and civil supplies employee Kanaka Durga, both aged below 50 years, successfully entered Sabarimala early on Wednesday morning. This is the first time after the Supreme Court verdict in September 2018, which allowed women of menstruating ages to enter, that this has happened. 

While some leaders have taken aim at the Communist government for allowing the women to enter, others have criticised the Sabarimala head priest’s (Thanthri) decision to close the sanctum sanctorum of Sabarimala for “purification rituals”, after news that the two women had entered. 

Speaking to reporters in Guruvayoor, CPI(M) MLA and Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran said, “The fact that women entered Sabarimala, our respected CM has already confirmed. In truth, none of us knew about this. The women who entered the temple spoke about having done so on WhatsApp, that’s how the world found out.” This was shortly after he faced black flag protests over the entry of the two women at an event he was attending there.

Kadakampally added, “The SC said women of all ages can go and that’s the SC’s decision. So, women of all aged can come. If women come like that and ask for police protection, we cannot say we will not give. Whoever comes, if you ask for police protection, then democratically, the government must do that. That’s all the government has done.”

Kadakampally also commented on the contentious issue of the Sabarimala Thanthri closing the sanctum sanctorum (or nada) of Sabarimala for one hour at 10.30am on Wednesday. “The Thanthri alone cannot close the nada, he must discuss with leaders of the temple before doing so. That responsibility and discussion must take place with TDB. But even if Thanthri has discussed with TDB and closed the nada this morning, it is against the SC verdict. Let him respond in court.”

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday morning at a press meet, CPI(M) Secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan also discussed the Thanthri’s decision to close the sanctum sanctorum for “purification”, saying, “The Thanthri and Devaswom Board have the responsibility to enact the SC verdict, which allowed women of all ages to enter Sabarimala. In fact, the Thanthri is a litigant named in the SC’s case, and now we have reached a stage where the Thanthri himself might have broken the rule of law. They must accept the law and not openly insult the judiciary. Nobody can be allowed to break the law or create an illegal situation. The government, Thanthri and Devaswom Board have the responsibility to enact the verdict, but some of the bodies that are entrusted with enacting it are the ones breaking the SC verdict.”

He continued to downplay the role of the government in this, stating, “Many women tried to enter the temple thus far, but couldn’t enter because of obstacles they faced. We do not accept (what others have alleged), that the CPI(M) was obstinate about taking women to the temple. We simply decided not to allow any obstacles to women going to Sabarimala. Two women now managed to go without arousing protests. If any more women are planning to come, we hope they come. This adversarial approach by the Thanthri is wrong, I don’t know why he did it. It must be investigated by the SC.”

Kodiyeri’s view that the Thanthri must answer before the SC for his action of closing the sanctum sanctorum was echoed by CPI(M) leader Kanam Rajendran in his brief comments to the media. 

Meanwhile, BJP State President Sreedharan Pillai said, “This is an attack on devotees by atheist people. The CPI(M) has planned all this, they will never win. History will be witness to their loss. We will protest strongly, we will demand the resignation of the Chief Minister.” Sreedharan Pillai had previously been embroiled in controversy after having stated that the head priest or Thanthri had, on October 19, closed the sanctum sanctorum of Sabarimala after Rehana Fathima and Kavitha J approached the temple, only after consulting with him on the telephone. 

Leader of Opposition and Congress MLA Ramesh Chennithala also made strong remarks on the issue, and refuted the government’s statements that they were not aware that the women would make an attempt to the enter the temple. “The CM’s obstinacy has been enacted. This conspiracy has been undertaken with the intention of hurting and insulting all religious people in Kerala. Police took the two women into custody with no irumudikettu (holy bag of offerings carried by Ayyappa devotees), to Sannidhanam. It was an obstinate desire of the CM to get women into Sabarimala. Yesterday, they did the Women’s Wall with this intention. But no one imagined that they would take women into the temple at night the very next day. Now we all know why they held the event. It has hurt the minds of all people who believe, and this was a grave error.”

Chennithala continued on the timing of the event, “On January 22, the review petition hearing [in the SC] will come. While the Devaswom Board had asked the SC for more time to enact the verdict, still the government has taken these two women inside. This was the CM’s and the government’s conspiracy to hurt the minds of the devotee population, and it can never be justified. When they didn't have the irumudikettu or other accoutrements, why did the government insist on taking these two activists there?” He said that the UDF would organise strong protests, and urged believers of all denominations to come out and protest against the women entering the temple.

Speaking on the Thanthri’s decision to close the sanctum sanctorum of Sabarimala in order to conduct “purification” rituals, Chennithala said, “It is 100% right to close the nada. Closing the sanctum sanctorum is not Kanam Rajendran or Kodiyeri Balakrishnan’s decision. If they have said anything against it, they are part of the conspiracy against Sabarimala. It is 100% the right decision by Thanthri to close the nada.” 

Commenting on the same, CPI(M) politician and Sports Minister EP Jayaraj said, "It is contempt of court. What right does he have to close the nada? Nowadays, according to temple rules, without the permission of the Travancore Devaswom Board, it is illegal to do so. They should not listen to influences of terrorists and extremists, but work from a higher thinking of love of god,” he added.

Meanwhile, Nair Service Society head Sukumaran Nair gave thanks to the Thanthri and the Pandalam erstwhile royal family for shutting the sanctum sanctorum and conducting purification rituals.


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