Various Hindu organisations on Wednesday protested in front of the Padmanabha Swamy shrine Thiruvananthapuram against the decision to relax the dress code for women, permitting devotees to wear the traditional Indian salwar kameez and churidar while worshipping at the temple. They were protesting against the decision of the Executive Officer (EO) K N Sateesh, allowing women to enter the temple wearing salwar and churidar and offer prayers.
Women devotees earlier had to wear a ‘mundu’ (dhoti) over their waist if they were attired in salwar and churidar before entering the famous shrine, considered the richest Hindu temple in the world.
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Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran said he had come to know about the officer’s decision and the protests. “Government will take an appropriate decision on the matter after looking into all aspects,” he told reporters.
Some members of the Kerala Brahamanna Sabha squatted on the road leading to the western entrance of the shrine protesting the decision. However, women wearing salwar kameez and churidar could enter through the eastern entrance.
A member of the sabha said the EO’s decision was against the temple’s centuries-old tradition. Their representatives met the administrative committee chairman on the matter.
Hindu Aikya Vedi chairperson Shashikala Teacher said the executive officer cannot take such a decision which was against the temple’s rituals and tradition.
BJP leader Sobha Surendran said though personally she was not against women wearing salwar and churidar entering the temple, the EO should have discussed the matter before all concerned before taking such a decision.
Some temple employees were seen not allowing women wearing salwar and churidar to enter.
However, the Executive Officer told PTI devotees were entering the temple wearing salwar and churidar. This was an issue before the Kerala High Court and he had to get a legal advice from his advocate on the matter.
Asked if any status quo has been directed on the matter, he said he had not received any such order as of now.
Justice Shaji P Chaly of the High Court had yesterday, while disposing of a petition by Riya Raji, directed the EO to consider her plea against forcing women in salwars and churidars to wear a dhoti before entering the shrine and take an appropriate decision after providing an opportunity of hearing to the petitioner or any other interested persons within a month.
Following the court order, the Executive officer had taken a decision to relax the age old dress code.
Well-known poetess, Sugathakumari said women dressed decently should be allowed inside the temple.
“Women should go to the temple wearing decent dress. If a mundu is worn over a churidar, that is not right,” she said. The temple’s senior Tantri (priest) and administrative committee have voiced opposition to the EO’s decision.
According to temple customs, women should wear sarees, ‘mundu and neriyathu’ (set mundu), not cover their face while offering worship, while men have to wear mundu and be bare-chested.
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