Not our victory, says ex-royal family on Padmanabha Swamy temple verdict
The state government made it clear that it has no plan to go in for a review or appeal and it will go by the verdict of the apex court even as devotees took to streets in large numbers to celebrate it by distributing sweets.Updated: Jul 13, 2020 16:22 IST
The erstwhile royal family of Travancore, whose rights on the administration of age-old Sree Padmanabha Swamy temple in Thiruvananthapuram were upheld by the Supreme Court on Monday, welcomed the verdict thanking all devotees and others who stood with them during the long years of legal battle.
The state government made it clear that it has no plan to go in for a review or appeal and it will go by the verdict of the apex court even as devotees took to streets in large numbers to celebrate it by distributing sweets. Since lockdown was in place in the state capital they took care to avoid a big gathering outside the temple.
“It is not the victory of the royal family. It is the victory of people and devotees. Finally, the will of the Lord Padmanabha Swamy prevailed. We dedicate this to the presiding deity,” said Aswathi Tirunal Lakshmi Bhai, a member of the ex-royal family. She thanked all devotees and others who stood with them in trying times.
“It is a landmark judgment which upholds devotees’ rights. Under Article 25 &26, devotees enjoy every right to manage their places of worship. But in some communities the government holds this power. Let it be a pluralistic and uniform status,” said Rahul Iswar, an activist belonging to the tantri (head priest) family of Sabarimala hill temple. He said the latest verdict will have its bearing on similar cases relating to faith, including Sabarimala.
In 2018 a five-member bench of the Supreme Court had allowed women of all ages to worship at the hill temple which led to a series of violent protests as women of child-bearing age were barred here citing the eternal celibate status (nishtika brahmachari) of the presiding deity. In an unusual move, the Supreme Court decided to take a relook and referred the issue to a larger bench.
“The temple and its huge wealth existed because of the royal family. Had it been in the hands of politicians it would have been looted long back,” said a devotee Saradha M Thampi. “It is a welcome verdict. With this uncertainty over the custody of the shrine will be over,” said historian M G Sasibushan.
Like in Sabarimala, the Congress-led UDF favoured a status quo in Padmanabha Swamy temple also but the CPI(M)-led government wanted a government-controlled body to manage the temple affairs on the lines of Guruvayur and Travancore Devaswom boards where chairmen are appointed by the government, always politicians.
Former chief minister VS Achuthanandan had once said scions of the royal family were in a race to loot Padmanabha Swamy temple inviting enough criticism from many quarters. The opposition Congress and BJP also lauded the verdict.
“It is another slap on the face of the government. It should apologise to devotees for trampling their rights,” said BJP state president K Surendran. “With his verdict we hope the government will respect age-old beliefs and customs of people,” said former chief minister Oommen Chandy.