Sabarimala temple body may seek time from Supreme Court to implement order
The Supreme Court had last month ended a centuries-old ban on the entry of women of menstruating age into the Sabarimala temple, ruling that exclusion on the basis of biological and physiological features was unconstitutional and discriminatory.Updated: Oct 15, 2018 22:37 IST
With two days left for the Sabarimala temple to open its doors after the Supreme Court verdict, a functionary of the Travancore Devaswom Board that manages the hill-shrine shrine hinted that the temple body could ask the Supreme Court for time to implement its verdict allowing women to enter the hill-shrine.
The top court had last month ended a centuries-old ban on the entry of women of menstruating age into the temple, ruling that exclusion on the basis of biological and physiological features was unconstitutional and discriminatory.
The board and Kerala’s ruling coalition led by the Communist Party of India (Marxist), which had argued in court to allow women entry, had refused to file a review petition against the top court’s four-one majority verdict.
But the pressure has been building up.
On Monday, thousands of women and children carrying pictures and placards of Lord Ayyappa hit the streets to protest the verdict allowing women of all ages to worship at the temple. The protests coincided with the BJP-led NDA’s six-day rally that concluded at the state secretariat.
Watch: Last-minute talks, ‘long march’, protests ahead of Sabrimala temple opening
BJP’s state unit chief PS Sreedharan Pillai , while addressing a huge gathering of protestors at the state secretariat on Monday, threatened the Pinarayi Vijayan government to resolve the issue in 24 hours or face agitation. He further accused the “communists and atheists” of “hatching a conspiracy to destroy the hilltop temple”.
Besides, many outfits, including the Shiv Sena, have threatened mass immolation and violent protests if women are allowed to trek beyond the base camp at Pambha.
The 24-hour deadline set by the BJP coincides with the temple body’s crucial meeting on Tuesday with the tantri (supreme priest), Pandalam’s erstwhile royal family and other stakeholders to try and defuse the situation.
Sources said the TDB is likely to propose a plan to seek more time to implement the verdict since the row appeared to be getting out of hand.
“We are ready to discuss all issues. We are confident the issue will be sorted out amicably. We will hear all stakeholders patiently and we will also convince them about our limitations,” the temple board president A Padmakumar, also a former CPI (M) legislator, said.
Pandalam royal family and three tantris have said they will attend the meet.
“We stick to our decision to maintain the status quo at the temple. It is for the TDB to find a solution,” said Pandalam royal family member Sasikumar Verma. Earlier both, royal family and tantris, had turned down an invitation of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan for talks.
Sources said the temple board is likely to cite poor infrastructure to seek more time to implement the top court’s verdict. It is also expected to point to the recent floods that have damaged many facilities at the base camp Pambha and other areas.
Already, a young teacher in north Kerala’s Kannur alleged that she was flooded with threats and abuses after she announced her decision to trek to the hilltop temple in November on social media and said she had started the 41-day fast as part of the custom.
“I consider menstruation like any other body discharge so I feel it is not impure. I am sure I can observe the penance with purity,” said Reshma Nishanth (32). The VHP and other organizations have carried out protest rallies outside her home and the police said they will provide protection to her.
First Published: Oct 15, 2018 22:36 IST