It was earlier decided that the hill shrine would reopen on June 14, with restricted entry to devotees.

Sabarimala to remain closed to devotees annual festival stands cancelled
Coronavirus Coronavirus Thursday, June 11, 2020 - 14:40

The Sabarimala hill shrine will not open its doors to the public due to the increasing COVID-19 cases in the state. The decision has ended the uncertainty over the popular hill shrine’s reopening on June 14 (Sunday).

In a meeting held between the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) and the temple’s high priest Thantri Kandararu Mohanaru on Thursday, it has been decided that the shrine will continue to remain closed to devotees in the present scenario. The monthly pooja will also be conducted behind closed doors.

“We have also decided to not hold the 10-day annual temple festival now, which is usually held in the month of Meenam, but got postponed once due to the pandemic,” N Vasu, President of the Travancore Devaswom Board told TNM.

The 10-day Ulsavam or festival in the month of Meenam when devotees throng the hill shrine is usually celebrated in early March. However, it was postponed due to COVID-19.

Speaking to the media on Thursday, Thantri Mohanarus said “With regard to holding this temple festival, it was not a decision that the Devaswom board had taken unilaterally. I had suggested and sent a letter saying we can hold it in June. But it was not the same scenario as May.  Last month was very peaceful. Even the situation in the state was peaceful. But now, it is quite serious.” 

Last week, it was decided that Sabarimala  will reopen its doors to devotees on June 14, with the Kerala government announcing that restricted entry would be permitted into the temple.

However, due to a difference of opinion on reopening the temple with the priests, Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran told the media that they would hold a meeting with the priests to arrive at a consensus.

According to Surendran, after the Central government’s guidelines that religious institutions can be reopened, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan chaired a meeting on June 4. Prior to this, the Devaswom Boards also held internal meetings with priests of temples in Kerala regarding reopening in June.

“The decision to reopen temples was announced only after these meetings. However, in the present scenario, we need to know what the opinion of the priests are. We have invited Sabarimala Thantris and TDB officials for a meeting on Thursday,” Kadakampally Surendran had told the media on Wednesday.

Followig the meeting, the Thantri added that there was no rift between the temple priests and the Devaswom board and that “some people have celebrated this”.