Kerala CM invites royals, Sabarimala priests for talks on apex court order
Amid protests against the Supreme Court order allowing women of all ages to enter the Sabarimala temple, Kerala’s Left Front government on Saturday mellowed its stand and invited three tantris (supreme priests) of the shrine and members of the erstwhile Pandalam royal family for discussions. Chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan will hold talks with them on Monday.
“We will meet all persons concerned and convince them that as an elected government we are duty-bound to implement the verdict of the highest court of the country. Eyeing votes, some parties are fanning trouble. Their mischief won’t succeed,” said Kerala temple affairs minister Kadakampally Surendran.
On Saturday, scion of the Pandalam royal family Sasikumar Verma and Sabarimala chief priest Rajeevaru Kandararu participated in a protest rally in Changanassery in Kottayam district. This is the first time a high-ranking priest of the shrine and members of the royal family hit the streets to protest the court decision. The rally was attended by thousands of devotees, especially women, chanting hymns and mantras.
Kandararu said he is yet to receive any invitation from the CM. “Feelings of devotees have been hurt. Women are coming up in large numbers saying they will not enter the temple. But some people are adamant that women in certain age-group will be allowed, come what may,” said Verma.
The Supreme Court had opened the doors of Sabarimala to women of all ages on September 28, annulling the custom barring entry to women of a reproductive age (10-50 age group). Since then, the state has been witnessing a series of protests with the opposition Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) supporting them. The Congress has made it clear that it will stand with the believers, while the BJP has alleged that the government is trying to undermine the religious beliefs of devotees.