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Sabarimala: CPM Ministers Say Monarchy is Over, Question Pandalam Family's Directive to Tantri to Shut Down Temple

The Pandalam royal family has alleged the CPI(M)-led LDF government was trying to destroy sanctity of the shrine of the "Naishtik Brahmachari" by taking women in the menstrual age group there.

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Updated:October 22, 2018, 10:19 AM IST
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Sabarimala: CPM Ministers Say Monarchy is Over, Question Pandalam Family's Directive to Tantri to Shut Down Temple
Women devotees, wishing to enter the Sabarimala temple, are forced to return in the wake of mounting protests.
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New Delhi: Two Kerala ministers took on the erstwhile royal family of Pandalam over the latter’s directive to the Sabarimala tantri (priest) that the temple should be forced shut if women of menstruating age enter the shrine.

On Friday, two young women, a journalist and an activist, were forced to abandon their attempt to enter the Sabarimala temple after the protesting devotees blocked their way and the tantri threatened to lock the doors to the sanctum sanctorum if the women were allowed to enter the shrine.

Pandalam Palace Managing Committee secretary PN Narayana Varma told The Hindu that he had sent a communication through a special messenger directing the tantri to close the sanctum if any young woman violated the temple’s customs and entered its precincts.

The erstwhile royal family that once owned the temple as its family property handed it over to the government in 1949.

CPM leader and Public Works Minister G Sudhakaran said Kerala society should debate about the stand of the tantri and royal family. “How can a tantri threaten that he could close down the temple in the manner a shopowner says during a hartal. What is the right of the royal family to issue such a direction,” Suhakaran was quoted as saying by The Indian Express.

Another CPM leader and Energy Minister MM Mani said the royal family and the tantri should realise that the monarchy is over and that the tantri who threatened to shut down the temple is only a salaried person.

However, the royal family said it has the right to issue directions to the tantri.

“Those who have doubt about the power of the family can inspect the documents. The tantri had accepted the direction realising our right to do so,” the royal family’s executive committee president, Sasikumara Varmahe told The Indian Express.

The Pandalam family has been at the forefront of the agitation against the Supreme Court order lifting the age bar on entry of women to Sabarimala. According to the legend, Lord Ayyappan was once a prince of Pandalam, after he was adopted by the Pandalam King.

The gates of the Lord Ayyappa temple in Sabarimala will close for a month on Monday and no woman of menstruating age has been able to enter the shrine for the last five days despite a landmark Supreme Court judgment which allowed women of all ages to visit the shrine.

The Pandalam royal family has alleged the CPI(M)-led LDF government was trying to destroy sanctity of the shrine of the "Naishtik Brahmachari" by taking women in the menstrual age group there.

The BJP has urged the Kerala government to convene a session of the assembly and pass a resolution seeking the Centre's intervention to overcome the crisis.

BJP state president PS Sreedharan Pillai claimed even CPI(M) members in the state were opposing the bid to break the custom of the ancient shrine, which draws lakhs of devotees from across the country, especially from southern states.

Leader of Opposition in the state Assembly Ramesh Chennithala of the Congress urged the Centre to bring an ordinance to overcome the Supreme Court verdict.
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