Tanthri is the last word in Sabarimala matters is wrong , Says Rajagopalan

published on December 15, 2011

Controversy over no-entry to priest’s grandson at Sabarimala
Daily Pioneer – Kochi

The denial of permission to Rahul Easwar, grandson of traditional chief priest (Tanthri) Kantararu Maheswararu, to enter the sanctum sanctorum of the Lord Ayyappa temple at Kerala’s famous pilgrim centre Sabarimala has snowballed into a controversy. Rahul was denied entry on Tuesday by the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB), which administered the temple.

The incident has virtually led to a standoff between the TDB and the Tanthri family with the former categorically stating that the Tanthri’s bid to let his grandson into the sanctum sanctorum without its permission amounted to a criminal offence and the latter announcing that they would approach the Kerala High Court against the “humiliation” of the chief priest.

Talking to newsmen on Wednesday, Tanthri Maheswararu and his grandson Rahul Easwar, a television personality, said that the TDB’s act of denying permission to the latter to enter the Sreekovil was equal to openly humiliating the priestly family. “I will approach the High Court against this humiliation,” Maheswararu said in a statement read out by Rahul at the Press meet.

Breaking into tears in front of newsmen while presenting his version of Tuesday’s incident, Maheswararu said, “He (Rahul) is the son of my daughter (Mallika Antharjanam). The holiness of the temple will not be affected by his presence in the Sreekovil (sanctum sanctorum). I have not suffered such humiliation in my whole life till date,” he said.

Accusing the Devaswom Board of acting in a threatening manner, Rahul told newsmen that the Tanthri had the absolute authority to decide on matters related to the rites and rituals of the temple. “I am challenging the TDB which has termed my bid to enter the Sreekovil as an offence to prove it,” he said.

“Rahul Easwar has no priestly rights at the Sabarimala temple,” said TDB president M Rajagopalan Nair on Wednesday. Even if they were invoking the issue of relationship, this could not be allowed as Rahul was the son of the Tanthri’s daughter, he said. He could get entry with necessary permission if he was the son of Tanthri’s son, he added.

“There are clear court judgements about the rights of the Tanthri at Sabarimala. The effort to enter the Sreekovil by misinterpreting these verdicts is a criminal offence. The Tanthri has the right to decide on the poojas and other customs of the temple and he is getting paid for these services by the Devaswom Board,” Nair said.

He admitted that the Tanthri had some special rights at the temple but argued that these pertained to what kind of poojas and hymns should be performed there. “However, he does not have the right to arbitrarily allow anyone to enter the Sreekovil and perform poojas. The argument that Tanthri is the last word in all Sabarimala matters is wrong,” he added.

Maheswararu had tried to let Rahul inside the sanctum sanctorum during the Uchappooja (noon rituals) on Tuesday.  The TDB executive officer prevented him from that by saying that only persons cleared by the board could enter the sanctum sanctorum. He said that such persons had been given special identity cards. “Rahul does not appear on that list,” he said.

However, Rahul argued that denying permission to anyone from the Tanthri family was equivalent to humiliating the chief priest himself. “This is an intrusion by the TDB into the pooja affairs of the temple. I have entered the Sreekovil earlier with my grandfather and nobody had denied permission on those occasions,” he claimed.

Meanwhile, the Aikya Mala Araya Maha Sabha and Sree Ayyappa Dharma Sangham harshly criticized the TDB’s act of denying permission to Rahul Easwar to enter the sanctum sanctorum. The two outfits said in Kottayam on Wednesday that devotees could not agree with the TDB act as it was against the rituals

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