Sabarimala temple custodian, the Travancore Devasom Board (TDB), on Thursday expressed concern over the way the ongoing Sabarimala issue has been handled, which it sees as a concerted attempt to promote private temples over the Lord Ayyappa shrine.
"There is a concerted attempt to promote 'new generation' of private temples and that's why there has been a call now given asking devotees not to give offerings at the Sabarimala temple and other temples owned by the TDB," said TDB president A. Padmakumar.
"There is some game plan to finish Sabarimala as there are around 13,000 Hindus who are employees and pensioners of the TDB and there are 1,248 temples of the TDB.
"Those who are against us think that they can finish us off by asking pilgrims not to contribute, but this is not going to happen," added Padmakumar.
The TDB is already feeling the heat as there has been a drop of Rs 25 crore in offerings collected during the 11-day period starting November 16, when it opened for the present two month long festival season, as compared to the last season.
There was a call given by a section of the top BJP leaders who have asked devotees and pilgrims not to give any offerings to the temples of the TDB.
Padmakumar, who is also a former CPI-M legislator, told the media in Thiruvananthapuram that things have started becoming clear at the way the protests at the temple were going on.
The stakeholders of the Sabarimala temple consist of the TDB, which looks after the day-to-day management, while the Kantararu family looks after the tantric duties and the Pandalam royal family takes care of the jewellery of the temple.
The Kerala Police has extended the prohibitory orders at the temple town till Friday midnight.
Protests by Hindu groups began in the temple town on September 28 when the Supreme Court allowed women of all ages to enter the temple that hitherto banned girls and women aged 10-50.
The apex court on November 13 refused to stay the September verdict, three days before the temple opened this season.
The Left Democratic Front government led by the CPI-M has been trying to implement the apex court's verdict even as the Congress, the Bharatiya Janata Party and several Hindu groups have been up in arms against it.
Hitherto during the festival season, on an average around one lakh pilgrims would arrive daily, but since November 16 this has fallen dramatically. This is the first time in many years that such a thing has happened.
According to the official TDB figures, in the first 11 days there has been a total collection of Rs 16.23 crore compared to the same time period in 2017 when it was Rs 41.70 crore.
The drop includes Rs 11 crore in the sales of ravana (made from jaggery) Rs 6.85 crore in offerings and Rs 2.45 crore in sales of appom (a variety of cake).
However, state BJP president P.Sreedharan Pillai told the media on Thursday that it's the Pinarayi Vijayan government which is out to destroy the Sabarimala temple.
"From December 5 to 10, we are going to organise a statewide protest against the way the Left government here has handled the temple issue with absolute callousness," said Pillai.