Andhra Policemen Prevented from Growing Hair, Dressing in Black as Part of Sabarimala Observance.

published on November 20, 2012
The Andhra Pradesh Police have issued a circular directing their personnel not to dress in black or grow their hair, which is part of the 40-day deeksha or preparation for going to Sabarimala. The circular has been issued by the Commissioner of Cyberabad Police in response to the request made by a few personnel for wearing black clothes and growing hair and beard in order to perform certain rituals which are part of the deeksha. But the response, which was issued on 8 November has clarified that permission will not be granted to “disciplined police personnel” to dress in black while on duty.
“They would not be allowed to grow their hair and beard or perform duties without shoes either. If any police personnel desire to observe deeksha for Swamy Ayyappa, they can apply for leave,” said the circular.
The BJP has castigated the police department for the circular. “It is nothing but infringement on the right to religious freedom,” said BJP spokesman NVSS Prabhakar.
However, Cyberabad police commissioner Dwaraka Tirumala Rao has said that the matter is nothing new, adding that he would look into the matter. “It is not a new circular, but has been in practice for several years,” a police official said. Home minister P. Sabita Indra Reddy, however, said there was no restriction on the police personnel who want to go on Ayyappa deeksha. ”Let the police personnel perform their duties normally without any controversies,” she said.
The 40-day deeksha commenced on 16 November and has a set of stringent norms which are observed unfailingly by devotees as a mark of self discipline. This includes eating soft food without salt, walking without footwear, dressing in black, sleeping on the floor, bathing in cold water and performing bhajans early in the morning and late evening. The maximum number of devotees to Sabarimala come from Andhra Pradesh.

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