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Sabarimala closes gates but political slugfest continues

Spiritual leader Mata Amritanandmayi, who was the chief guest at the gathering, called temples pillars of India civilisation.

india Updated: Jan 20, 2019 22:52 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Sabarimala,sabarimala temple,annual pilgrimage season
The Lord Ayyappa temple in Sabarimala was closed Sunday marking the culmination of the over two-month-long stormy annual pilgrimage season.(AFP)

An umbrella organisation of Hindu outfits on Sunday vowed to defeat any attempts to dilute the age-old custom of preventing the entry of women and girls in the menstruating age into Kerala’s Sabarimala Temple.

The Sabarimala Karma Samiti (SKS) said it will continue the struggle against the dilution until its “gets justice” as the umbrella group organised a meeting of the temple’s devotees in Thiruvananthapuram. The meeting coincided with the end of the annual pilgrimage to the hill temple.

Spiritual leader Mata Amritanandmayi, who was the chief guest at the gathering, called temples pillars of India civilisation. “Every temple has its own customs. It is the duty of believers to uphold these customs. If customs are flouted, our culture will suffer,” said Amritanandmayi.

The ruling Communist Party of India (Marxist) or CPI (M) criticised Amritanandmayi’s presence at the meet. “It was not proper on the part of Amma [Amritanandmayi] to attend such a meet,” said state CPI (M) secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan.

Messages of another spiritual leader, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, and Pejawar Mutt chief Sri Vishvesha Teertha and others were read out at the meet.

Former Kerala police chief, T P Senkumar, who spoke at the event, alleged there were concerted attempts to denigrate the temple’s divinity. He accused the state government of not presenting the Sabarimala case in the apex court properly.

The Supreme Court had in September ordered the end of the ban on women and girls in the menstruating age group from entering the temple. But the temple has refused to abide by the ruling, citing the celibate nature of the temple’s presiding deity, Lord Ayyappa.

The SKS claimed over two lakh devotees attended the meeting against the ruling party while 200 religious organisations supported it. According to the trust, which controls the temple, there has been a 30% dip in the number of pilgrims visiting the temple since the Supreme Court ruling sparked a series of protests. The revenue generated at the shrine has decreased by ₹96.55 crore compared to the previous season, the trust added.

The state’s Left government has said it is determined to uphold the court’s verdict. On January 2, two women in their 40s became the first in the menstruating age group to worship at the shrine. A violent shutdown followed the next day in protest.

First Published: Jan 20, 2019 17:23 IST