Around 10 km from the Guruvayoor Sri Krishna Temple is situated the 'Chenas mana' (mana is the traditional house of Namboodiris), the dwelling of the traditional high priest of the temple.
Call him the man in the eye of a storm, the octogenarian tantri (high priest), Chenas Raman Namboodiripad, talks to HT about the row over the purification ceremony, singer Yesudas controversy, the temple customs, the government's role and his plans.
The temple is slipping into one controversy after another, how you take this?
What can I do? Some people want to be in the news. So they rake up unnecessary issues. In Guruvayoor, Adi Shankara had set the rituals and customs. I am just following the age-old practices. A tantri cannot legislate laws.
If the government has guts, it can do it. If a law is legislated then like every citizen, the tantri too is bound to follow it. But I don't think they will do it. They are more concerned about vote bank and other issues.
State temple affairs minister G. Sudhakaran has threatened to sue you?
Let him do it. I am really pained the way he's behaving. I can reply in the same tone. But my position is not allowing me. As a ‘tantri,’ I am bound to act upon existing laws and I perform rituals as per the tradition. I don't think Hindus are eager enough to enter a mosque or a church. It is good if all religions respect one another's beliefs and traditions.
What really happened in Vayalar Ravi's son Ravikrishna's case?
I came to know about it only after papers flashed the photographs. If he had sought my permission, I would have denied it then. He was aware of the temple's position still he flouted it. It is sad that the Guruvayoor Devasom board chairman and many officials present there kept mum. Once it had happened, purification rite was the only way out. Three days' poojas were cancelled and we repeated them all again.