Under pressure, Kerala decides to not open Sabarimala temple

Kerala government decided on Thursday to abandon the monthly festival and rituals at Sabarimala temple and ban entry to devotees, stepping back from its earlier decision to open up temples under it to devotees.

The state government’s decision to open temples on the ground that the Centre had allowed it faced backlash from BJP leaders, Hindu outfits and religious leaders who alleged it would lead to community spread of virus. There are around 3,000 temples in Kerala under the five devaswoms, which are temple affairs body controlled by the state government.

Sabarimala priest Thantri Mahesh Mohanaru asked the Travancore Devaswom Board that manages the hill shrine to not go ahead with the festival, slated to begin on June 14. On Thursday Sabarimala Ayyappa Seva Samajam moved the high court seeking stay of the government decision to permit devotees to Sabarimala temple during the ensuing monthly ritual.

As it became a rallying point for pro-Sangh Parivar outfits, Devaswom minister and CPI (M) leader Kadakampally Surendran held a discussion with devaswom board officials and the priest.

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Surendran said the festival would be limited to rituals and devotees would not be allowed. The ban would continue until further decision. The government was not adamant on reopening temples, and devotees’ concern would be considered, he said.

Sangh Parivar-backed Kerala Kshetra Samrakshana Samithi had demanded that the government withdraw its decision to open temples and take the faithful into confidence before allowing entry for the public. The samithi as well as Nair Service Society had decided not to open temples under their control.

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