A meeting called by Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to discuss arrangements for the upcoming annual Sabarimala pilgrimage season with Devaswom and Endowment ministers and officials from Karnataka, Puducherry, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, did not see participation of any ministers this year.
The meeting was called to discuss arrangements for the Sabarimala pilgrimage season, which begins next month, amidst deep controversy surrounding the Supreme Court’s verdict allowing women between the ages of 10 to 50 to enter the temple. The meeting was held at Thycaud guest house in Thiruvananthapuram, and inaugurated by Kerala Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran.
Kadakampally Surendran’s personal assistant, Mahesh Chandran, told TNM, “The meeting is held every year before the Sabarimala meeting with Devaswom or Endowments ministers of other [southern] states. Every year, very few ministers come, and they always send officials in their place.”
He continues, “This year, the Tamil Nadu Minister for Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments, Sevvoor Ramachandran, was supposed to come, but on Wednesday or Tuesday night, he informed us saying due to a political event happening there, he would not be able to come. The minister from Telangana also informed us that he couldn’t come due to upcoming elections there.”
But this is not an anomaly, he insists. “In other years as well, they usually don’t come and send officials. All states, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh as well, have informed us and sent their officials, it is nothing out of the ordinary.”
He says that last year, two ministers from Tamil Nadu attended the meeting, and the year before that, only one minister attended the yearly meeting.
Chandran also clarified that this meeting had nothing to do with the controversy over the SC verdict allowing women between ages 10 and 50 to enter the temple. “This meeting was being held to inform officials of other states about our Green Protocol, and most of all, to enlist their support in eradicating plastic from the irumudikettu of devotees. It had nothing to do with the SC verdict, and in any case, that issue is not in any way connected or under the purview of these ministers or officials from other states.”