On Tuesday, the Thazhamon Madom family, which selects the thantri or the chief priest for the Sabarimala temple, claimed that the post was their family right and that the Kerala government had no role in removing or questioning the chief priest. Negating this claim, Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran on Wednesday stated that the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) did have the power to decide who would be appointed to the post of Thantri.
On January 2, after Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan confirmed of two women in their forties - Bindu and Kanaka Durga - entered Sabarimala temple, the thantri performed a purification ritual. And on Sunday, TDB Commissioner N Vasu served notice to current thantri of Sabarimala, Kandararu Rajeevararu, for closing the temple and conducting the purification rituals.
Speaking to reporters, Kadakampally Surendran said, “What the thantri did was not in accordance with the Supreme Court’s verdict. Moreover, it was the TDB Commissioner who appoints and removes a thantri.”
The Minister was referring to the 2006 incident when then-Thanthri Kandararu Mohanararu was sacked from his post after reports emerged that he had been photographed with a sex worker in a flat in Kochi. In his complaint to the police, Kandararu Mohanararu had claimed that he had been abducted and forcibly photographed with the woman, while the register maintained at the flat recorded that he had visited the flat over 20 times previously.
Making a reference to the belief that the role of thantri was bestowed upon the Thazhamon Madom family by sage Parashuram, Kadakampally said, “Whether Parashuram gave it directly to the family is a matter of history; we are not going to get involved with that. What has happened here is that the thantri should try to respond to the notice issued to him in 15 days.”
At a press conference held on Sunday, TDB Commissioner N Vasu said that the TDB had the right to remove the thantri of Sabarimala temple as the shrine was owned by the TDB. He also stated that according to the TDB, against the backdrop of the Supreme Court verdict, it was not justifiable of the thantri to have performed purification rituals following the entry of women to the temple.