Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple, one of the country’s richest shrines, on Tuesday decided to ease the dress code for women by allowing salwar kameez apart from sarees.
Temple executive officer KN Satheesh issued the order after the Kerala high court began hearing a plea filed by a female devotee in the matter. The petitioner, Riya Raje, who is an advocate, argued that customs demand decent clothing in places of worship but nowhere insists on a particular kind of dress.
She also pointed out the difficulties in draping a rented dhoti over a salwar kameez -- a solution that vendors outside the temple offer to people who are not dressed right. Devotees are often fleeced and given unwashed linen, she said.
“I am really happy. Often women face many difficulties over this custom,” Raje said.
Many organisations and members of the Travancore royal family have been opposed to any dilution of the temple’s dress code.
However, there is precedent: in 2007, the Guruvayur Sreekrishhna temple -- another significant temple in Kerala which followed the same custom, amended the dress code to allow salwar kameez.
The Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple shot to fame six years ago when the Supreme Court ordered inventorying of the temple wealth after six underground vaults were discovered. Coded A to F, all the vaults were opened, except for vault B, revealing an estimated Rs 1 lakh crore-worth of treasure, including rare jewels, gold coins, diamond-studded thrones, crowns and gold bars.
The court divested the Travancore royal family from the custodian of the temple and constituted a new body to run it.