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Court appoints committee to oversee Sabarimala temple festival


Kochi : The Kerala High Court Tuesday appointed a high-powered committee to oversee the Sabarimala temple festival that begins Nov 16 after the two-month event last year was mired in controversy due to poor management and ego clash among the management members.

The court asked senior bureaucrat and Sabarimala special officer K. Jayakumar to head the committee. It will include the Travancore Devasom Board (TDB) president and two other members. Top officials of the TDB would constitute the committee.

The court took the decision on a report submitted by the Devasom Ombudsman R. Bhaskaran. The state government had also said that it has no problems in appointing a committee.

The Sabarimala temple over the years has unofficially been declared as the Mecca for the Hindus, mainly Malayalees. During the two month season, between November and January, millions of devotees arrive at the temple situated in Pathanamthitta district. The hill-top temple, dedicated to Lord Ayyappa, can be reached only on foot.

In the last season, an estimated four million devotees visited the temple. Over the years and especially after the Left government took over in May 2006, the running of the temple has been mired in controversy because of the frequent conflict between the three member TDB.

C.K. Guptan, son-in-law of legendary Communist E.M.S. Nampoothiripad, is the president of TDB. The other two members P. Narayanan, a former Communist Party of India legislator, and P.K. Sumathy Kutty Amma have been at war among themselves.

The court Tuesday ordered that the newly-appointed committee take the sanction of the court if they need to spend an amount in excess of Rs.500,000 and also asked that the funds be used only for the festival.

Last season, the hugely popular ‘prasadam’ (holy offering) of the Sabarimala temple ran out of stock and angry devotees expressed their dissatisfaction when they were not given the offering.

Devotees were really upset when there was a short supply of cans in which the ‘prasadam’ is normally served and the temple authorities started serving it in buckets.

Now people feel that with a court-appointed committee taking over the running of the festival, things would be much better.