RSS leader Valsan Thillenkery on Tuesday courted controversy at the Sabarimala Temple after he walked down the pathinettam padi (18 steps) with his back to the temple, an action that allegedly goes against the temple rituals.
According to temple rituals, a person is allowed to climb up the pathinettam padi only if he is carrying an irumudikettu; while coming down, the person should be facing the temple, while his/her back should be facing the bottom of the stairs.
A video of Valsan addressing devotees standing at the pathinettam padi with his back facing the temple, as well as without an irumudikettu, started doing the rounds on social media.
Responding to the controversy, Valsan said that he had to address the devotees as a 52-year-old woman was stopped at the sanctum sanctorum of the temple by a mob who began protesting, saying that she was below 50 years of age. "The women have left, please calm down," he can be heard saying in the video. He also told the media that he had an irumudiketu with him while climbing up the steps, but a ruckus broke out as he climbed up. "I had to turn to control the crowd and at that time someone next to me kept my irumudiketu for safekeeping," he said. Pictures of Valsan carrying an irumudiketu on the steps have also been doing the rounds
Reacting to the controversy, Thantri Kandararu Rajeevaru said, “Only Thanthri and royal family are exempted from carrying irumudikettu to climb 18 steps. I’m not saying anything about anyone else, only these two have the permission to climb the steps without an irumudikettu.”
Not just Valsan, Devaswom member KP Sankardas was also spotted near the Sannidhanam without the irumudikettu.
In another video Valsan is seen using police equipment, a microphone connected to a megaphone, to address protestors outside the temple.
Using the megaphone, he said, “We have all come as bhakts. Some people, maybe four or five, here have come with intention of causing problems. We should not fall in their trap. We should carry out darshan peacefully, and allow darshan to be carried out peacefully. And if those of permissible age (above 50 years) come, we should help them. And if those under the age limit (below 50 years) come, there are provisions to take care of them [stop them] already in place.”
He continued to instruct the men gathered there saying, “The traditions of Sabarimala will not be broken. There are police here, our volunteers are here, so from Pamba onwards there are measures in place. Overcoming all that, a woman below 50 cannot come. So there is no reason to get agitated and create an issue. There are some people here who want to turn Sabarimala into a battleground, do you intend to fall into their traps? There are measures in place to address any attempt to break tradition. We do not need to interfere. If there is any need to involve everyone, we will call you. Until then, please don’t interfere. It is shameful if we interfere. Please heed this directive.”