Kerala’s apex temple body has sought an explanation from Sabarimala head priest Kandararu Rajeevaru over the revelation by the BJP state chief that he had consulted him before threatening the closure of the hill shrine if women in the menstrual age group entered it.
The Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB), which manages the Lord Ayyappa temple, however, made it clear Thursday that the procedure was just a formality as the ‘tantri‘ (head priest) had already rejected the BJP’s claim.
Devaswom Commissioner N Vasu recently sent a notice to Rajeevaru, seeking an explanation from him after the BJP state president P S Sreedharan Pillai’s claim had triggered a widespread controversy in the state.
“The TDB has full faith in the tantri. He has already rejected in public the BJP chief’s claim and explained his stand. We believe and respect his words,” TDB president A Padmakumar told PTI.
“The explanation was sought just to have a clarity on what had happened. It is not for initiating any action against the head priest,” he said, adding that the recent TDB meeting had discussed the issue.
Generally, the explanation should be furnished within seven days, board sources said.
At the height of dramatic protests against the entry of women of menstrual age into the Lord Ayyappa shrine, Rajeevaru had on October 19 threatened to shut the sanctum sanctorum if two young women, who had been escorted by police, were allowed to reach the ‘sannidhanam’ (temple complex).
Mr Pillai had courted controversy on Monday as TV channels aired a video clip in which he purportedly said the head priest had consulted him before threatening the closure of the shrine. The state BJP chief had added that he assured the ‘tantri’ that there would be no contempt and thousands of believers were with him.
As the revelation snowballed into a widespread political row, Rajeevaru himself had refuted Pillai’s claim, saying he had only discussed the matter with the senior member of the ‘tantri’ family and did not talk to the BJP chief.
Kerala has been on a boil after the September 28 Supreme Court verdict permitting women of all age groups into the Lord Ayyappa temple in Sabarimala.
Several outfits are on a warpath following the state government’s decision to go ahead and implement the top court verdict.
The hill shrine had recently witnessed protests against the attempt by some young women and journalists to enter the temple.