Kerala police arrested a group of five pilgrims of Sabarimala Ayyappa Temple on Monday for throwing away their used clothes in to River Pamba.
On October 15, Kerala High Court had passed a judgment saying throwing clothes into water bodies near Sabarimala is an offence punishable with imprisonment. The court order was to curb the practice of throwing used clothes to Pamba, which many pilgrims were known to do.
HC had also noticed that earlier there were no traditional custom of throwing clothes and other used things in to the river and the present practice have been acquired over the years .
“There is no such religious ritual in Sabarimala. We don’t encourage throwing things in to water bodies, it is mainly done by other state pilgrims, that they believe that by throwing away their things they are abandoning their sins and past life and beginning a new life forgetting the unpleasant past. But it is not a traditional practice here and we are strictly against it,” says Rahul Easwar an activist and a member of Sabarimala Thanthri family.
Previous years there were committees constituted to collect these threw away items and renew it for a reuse.
“Sanitation committees under Devaswom board collect tonnes of waste material every year from Pamba. They also have mechanism to reuse it. But that won’t solve the issues completely,” Rahul said.
Travancore Devaswom Board, which controls the Sabarimala Temple was also against the false practice followed by the pilgrims.
But the arrests of the pilgrims had irked the Board as they worry that it can reduce the number of pilgrims from other states. Devaswom Board has informed that they will approach High Court to review the order considering the protection of the pilgrims.
“Awareness is more practical than legal actions in this issue. Police arrest can hinder the relationship of the state with other states; it can also reduce the number of pilgrims to Sabarimala. It cannot be allowed, Board’s aim is to give protection to the pilgrims,” says Ajay Tharayil member of Travancore Devaswom Board and Congress leader.
“We are completely against the practice of throwing away things, which is not permitted, but harsh legal procedures cannot be encouraged. So we have plans to approach HC for a review,” he added.
However reports from Sabarimala say that pilgrims continue to throw their used things in to Pamba and scrutiny in to it happens very less from the part of authorities.