Sabarimla head priest Kandaru RajeevaruÂ ThursdayÂ appealed to â€œyoung womenâ€, who were restricted as per the centuries-old traditions of the shrine, not to come to Sannidhanam and create problem.
â€œWe respect the verdict of the Supreme Court. But, considering the sentiments of devotees and the tradition and rituals of the shrine, I humbly request you (young women) not to come to Sabarimala,â€ Rajeevaru said.Â Â
While urging the women not to visit the hill shrine, the priest dismissed reports that the tantri family had planned to close down the Lord Ayyappa temple if young women entered it to offer prayers.
The Sabarimala tantri was reacting at Sannidhanam, the temple complex, after the temple news went viral on social media.
â€œWe have never said that the temple will be closed if women of the traditionally barred age group enter thereâ€¦ It is our duty and responsibility to carry out the monthly poojas and other rituals. We will not break the custom,â€ Rajeevaru said.
The priest, however, said Sabarimala is a place where women are respected and pointed out that a major deity at the shrine is a goddess â€“ Malikappurathamma.
Expressing pain at the turn of events, tantri said it was yet to ascertain how violence had erupted at the prayer meeting protest.Â The priest also urged everyone not to turn the temple complex, the â€˜poonkavanamâ€™ (garden) of Lord Ayyappa, into a â€˜war zone.â€™
Women belonging to the age group of 10-50 could now enter the temple, according to the Supreme Court bench headed by then chief justice Dipak Misra in itsÂ September 28Â verdict. The verdict lifted the centuries-old ban on the entry of women of menstrual age into the shrine.
Meanwhile, V N Vasudevan Namboothiri, a native of Palakkad district, was elected as the new â€˜melshanthiâ€™ (chief priest) of the Lord Ayyappa Temple in Sabarimala for the next one year. Namboothiri is currently serving as the priest of an Ayyappa temple in Bengaluru.
And, M N Narayanan Namboothiri, hailing from Chengannur, would be the new priest of Malikappuram shrine at the Sabarimala temple complex.Â Both the priests were selected through a draw of lots conducted in front of the sanctum sanctorum.
The two priests will take charge onÂ November 17, the day the temple would be opened for the three-month-long â€˜Mandalam-Makaravilakkuâ€™ festival, Travancore Devaswom Board sources said.
(With PTI inputs)