In yet another move by Kerala government that manifests its antipathy towards Lord Ayyappa devotees, it has submitted an affidavit before the Kerala High Court stating that Sabarimala is a secular temple and entry of devotees to the temple cannot be restricted on the grounds of religion. The state government has therefore, opposed the plea that sought prohibition of non-Hindus into the Sabarimala temple.
Livelaw reported that TG Mohandas, a lawyer, had filed a writ petition before the Kerala High Court seeking to regulate the entry of non-Hindus and non-idol worshipers into the Sabarimala temple. The petition sought a declaration from the Court that permitting non-Hindus and non-idol worshipers in the shrine violates Rule 3 framed under the Kerala Places of Public Worship (Authorization of Entry) Act, 1965. In the last hearing the High Court had sought a response from the Kerala government.
Now, the Kerala government has filed its affidavit in this matter through its state attorney KV Sohan and said, “It is a historically accepted fact that Sabarimala is a secular temple where entry of devotees is not restricted on grounds of any caste or religion.” In what seems to be yet another insidious move by the Kerala government to further complicate the debate around the Sabarimala temple. The Kerala government and chief minister Vijayan had already been adamant about implementing the apex court verdict permitting entry of women of all ages including those in the age group of 10 to 50 years into the shrine. There were widespread protests, mostly led by women devotees, against entry of women within the age group of 10 to 50 years into the shrine. However, the state government has shown total apathy and indifference about sentiments of the Ayyappa devotees.
Now, the communist government in Kerala seems to be making an attempt at restricting autonomy of Hindus over the Sabarimala temple and take it over by classifying it as a “secular temple”. The affidavit has also stated, “Several Christians and Muslims are devotees of Sabarimala Ayyappa Temple and conduct pilgrimage at Sabarimala every year.” This is a dastardly attempt on part of the Kerala government to suddenly bring new stakeholders into the picture and dilute the stake of Hindus over the Sabarimala temple. In fact, the Kerala government openly claimed in its affidavit that Muslim and Christian organisations, Wakf Board and Vavar Trust are to be heard in this case. Thus, the government is unabashedly trying to involve Christian and Muslim organisations in the Sabarimala issue. This is nothing but Kerala government’s antagonism towards the Lord Ayyappa devotees.
The affidavit submitted by the Kerala government also went on to state that there was another school of thought, which opines that Sabarimala was a Buddhist temple and the word ‘Saranam’ was derived from Buddhism. It seems that the Kerala government is desperate to deny Hindus and the real Lord Ayyappa devotees, the right to administer and manage the Sabarimala, by hook or by crook.
This move by Kerala government seems like a preposterous attempt to deny Hindus the right to manage one of their significant religious institutions in the state. At this point, one cannot help but feel perplexed at the hypocrisy of the pseudo-seculars who are vying for secularization of Hindu temples but still vouch for the autonomy of Mosques and Churches in the country. Even if one were to believe that there is no mala fide in the Kerala government’s move, the fact that it is not pressing for secularization of Churches and Mosques in a similar manner is beyond comprehension. Therefore, the malice behind classifying the Sabarimala shrine as a “secular temple” is too clear to ignore.