Agitated with the Sabarimala priests for joining the protests against the September 28 Supreme Court verdict, the Kerala PWD Minister and CPI-M leader G Sudhakaran on Sunday insulted the Sabarimala temple Tantri, or head priest, saying the donkeys in the temple town have more grace.
This statement came days after Kerala’s Communist Chief Minister had also expressed his fury against Kantararu Rajivararu, Tantri of the Sabarimala temple, for threatening to close the doors of the sanctum if women of childbearing age entered the place of worship as allowed by the Supreme Court. Irked then by the head priest’s declaration the CM had said, the “Sabarimala temple would remain” even if any priest left.
The Communist minister made the statement at an inaugural speech at a cultural event in Kerala’s Alappuzha. He said, “At the temple town, it is the donkeys that do most of the work. Till date, they have not gone on any protest. After their hard work, they take rest near the Pamba river. These donkeys have more grace than the Tantri.”
Sudhakaran further said that the Tantris do not appear to have any attachment or concern towards Lord Ayyappa.
Sudhakaran’s comments reportedly came as a reply to the Tantri who said that he would close down the temple for ‘Punyaham’ if there was any violation in the temple customs.
Sabarimala is an ancient Sastha temple dedicated to Lord Ayyappa. On 28th September 2018, the Supreme court overruled the age-old tradition, prohibiting women of menstruating age to enter the shrine. Soon after the Supreme court decision in the case was delivered, protests erupted against the decision of the court. Devotees, led by women, came out on the streets protesting against the interference of the court in the traditions of the temple.
A review petition has been filed in the Supreme Court against the judgment by the Pandalam royal family, the Nair Service Society, the Tanthri or the chief priest of the Sabarimala temple and National Ayyappa Devotees Association.
Despite being aware of the outrage, the Kerala Chief Minister refused to file a review petition against the court order. He said that he will abide by the decision of the Apex Court and will provide facilities to devotees who wish to visit Sabarimala. The temple priests boycotted the talks called by the Kerala government.
No female devotee of Lord Ayyappa tried to enter the shrine. Two women activists, Kavitha Jakkala (a journalist) and Rehana Fatima (a Muslim), none of whom was a devotee of Lord Ayyappa, tried to enter the shrine amidst full police protection but they were met with resistance of the protesting devotees. Another woman, Mary Sweety, also returned midway as she was stopped by the protesters.
BJP came out strongly in support of Ayappa devotees with the BJP President Amit Shah assuring that the Karyakartas of the BJP will be standing beside the devotees of Lord Ayyappa. Congress party which initially welcomed the Supreme Court verdict, later on witnessing the mounting protests by the devotees, took a soft stand.
As per latest reports, the Supreme Court has admitted all 49 review petitions on the September 28 verdict. An open court hearing will commence on January 22.