Days after one of the chief priests of the Sabarimala temple said he would lock the doors of the sanctum sanctorum if young women attempted to enter the temple, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan hit back at him.
At a meeting in Pathanamthitta, organised to clarify the stance of the ruling LDF government on the subject of women’s entry at the Sabarimala temple, the chief minister used strong words to criticise the temple priest.
“Ayyappan is believed by a section of the devotees as a ‘naishtika brahmachari’ (eternal celibate). It’s true. There are beliefs that some deities are celibate. At such temples, mostly in northern India, the priest must also be celibate. That’s the truth. He must not marry. You all know the ‘celibate’ status of our priest here (at Sabarimala). I am not just talking about being occupied with a household. He has crossed that to enter a state of prostitution. Isn’t that what happened at Ernakulam?” the chief minister was quoted saying.
Vijayan was referring to an incident in 2006 when Kantararu Mohanaru, the current chief priest of the temple, was reportedly abducted by a gang and photographed alongside a woman.
The chief minister reminded his detractors that the Sabarimala temple belonged to the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) and not to any individual entity or family. He was aiming at both the Thazhamon madhom, the family of the priests, as well as the Pandalam royal family, who have an intrinsic link with the lore of Ayyappa.
He stressed once again that his administration had no plans to file a review petition against the Supreme Court verdict that lifted age restrictions for the entry of women at the hill shrine.