It’s final, Sabarimala to open sans devotees

The custodian of the famed Sabarimala temple — Travancore Devasom Board (TDB), the temple tantri along with Kerala Devasom Minister Kadakampally Surendran on Thursday decided not to allow devotees for the monthly rituals and cancelled this year’s annual festival.

The decision came following matters raised by the ‘tantri’, who has the final say on all tantric and ritualistic procedures.

Last week, it was decided to open Sabarimala temple based on the guidelines of the Centre. The TDB had also gone ahead and put in place the virtual-Queue, which has been used in the temple for a few seasons now.

However, when the number of coronavirus positive cases started to increase in the state in a second spurt, the temple tantri, two days back wrote to the TDB expressing his concern that things might not be good, if Sabarimala threw open its doors to devotees, even in a controlled manner.

The state government then decided to hold this meeting. Surendran told the media after it ended that it has now been decided not to hold this year’s annual festival.

“The discussion was very cordial and everyone agreed taking into account the present Covid scenario in the state. All must recall that there was a point when the total positive cases came down as low as 16, but then in the past two weeks it has started to increase. This was a cause of concern and we all decided it would be better not to open the temple for devotees,” said Surendran. There are now over 2,000 cases in Kerala.

“Some people with vested interests are trying to spread canards. Only Covid situation can dictate, when we can open it to devotees,” added Surendran.

The temple tantri K.M.Mohanaru said that he is an apolitical person and does not belong to any political party and his only concern are the devotees.

“It’s true that we agreed to open the temple, but then only later we came to know that opening of temples is not mandatory and is optional. Hence with the cases spiking, it would be in the best interest of all, that it has been decided not to open the temple. There is no difference of opinion with any at all,” said Mohanaru.

The TDB president N.Vasu said apart from the administration, we consulted on all other issues of the temple with the tantri family.

“At the moment all of us agreed, health is more important and hence we came to the decision,” said Vasu.

Now the opening of the Lord Ayyappa shrine for its monthly rituals starting June 14 at 5 p.m. will be an inhouse affair till it closes on June 19 at 10 p.m.