Kerala priests form panel to study temple entry norms


Trissur (Kerala) : A panel of Hindu priests that met here Monday to discuss if the doors of famed Kerala temples should be opened to non-Hindus decided to appoint an expert panel to study the contentious issue.

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Sreekumar Thamarapalli, president of the Yogakshema Sabha which met here, said that they had constituted a five-member 'achara parishad' which would prepare a report on the question if any changes were necessary in the centuries-old temple traditions.

"The general opinion our discussions was that the Sabha on its own cannot decide on the issue. This is because there are tantric issues, religious issues… the tradition of each temple is different. So we decided to appoint the five-member 'achara parishad'," Thamarapalli told IANS.

The five members are Tantri Kuzhikattu Kalidasan Bhatathiripad (tantri of the Travancore Devasom Board), Satishan Nampoothiripad (tantri of the famed Sree Padmanabha Swamy temple in Thiruvananthapuram), K.P.C. Narayanan Bhatthairpad (tantri of the Kochin Devasom Board), K.M. Jadhavedan Nampoothiri (renowned Hindu scholar and psychiatrist) and Perumpandathu Vaidyikan Rhishikeshan Nampoothiri (a religious expert).

"They would first prepare a detailed report on all the (relevant) issues of Hinduism including rituals. In a matter of three months this report would be discussed threadbare among the various organizations of the Hindu community and then based on the discussions, an opinion would be formed on whether changes have to be made," said Thamarapalli.

The meeting of the Sabha, a body of priests and temple administrators in the state, was held in the aftermath of recent controversies over entry restrictions at the famous Sree Krishna temple in Guruvayoor.

Even as the meet was on, Devaswom Minister K. Sudhakaran told reporters in Thiruvananthapuram that he would soon discuss with Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan to see what can be done to open the doors of the temples to all believers.

His remarks angered the priests.

"We register our strong protest to what the minister has said. The government need not interfere in ritualistic matters of temples in Kerala," Thamarapalli told reporters here after the meeting.

The Guruvayoor temple of late has run into controversies and Sudhakaran was instrumental in igniting one when he wrote to the temple administrators to see that veteran singer K.J. Yesudas, a Christian, be allowed to sing inside its premises Hindu devotional compositions that he is famous for.

Last week, Guruvayoor priests performed a purification ritual after the naming ceremony of Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi's grandson there. Ravi's wife is a Christian.

After the ritual at the temple, a section of Hindus has argued for a change in entry rules to allow non-Hindus into temples.