Bengaluru: Activists belonging to Hindu outfits stopped women in salwar kameez and churidar from entering the centuries-old Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple in Thiruvananthapuram a day after the government permitted it, Press Trust of India reported.
The temple’s chief executive officer K.N. Sathish, a civil service officer, had issued the Tuesday order permitting women in salwars and churidars to enter the shrine after Kerala high court early this month rejected a petition that compelled them to drape a dhoti around themselves, and directed the officer to take an appropriate decision on the matter.
The decision was taken in the face of opposition from the governing council of the centuries-old temple and outfits such as Hindu Aikya Vedi (Hindu United Front) and Kerala Brahmana Sabha, according to PTI.
On Wednesday morning, the activists started physically stopping women in churidars from entering the temple and squatted on the road leading to the east entrance of the temple, PTI reported. Local reports suggested the order has been put on hold, but Sathish told Mint he has not made any such decision. “I’ve issued the order based on constitutional grounds and the same has been informed to Kerala high court; if anyone has any problem they should approach the high court and get a stay order. It’s beyond my power to stay it now,” he said over phone.
After a meeting on 25 November, the administrative committee of the temple constituted by the Supreme Court had issued a statement voicing strong opposition to any change in dress code.
“The present dress code should be continued,” the statement said, adding that age-old tradition in vogue cannot be changed without wider consultation.” It said the decision is unanimous, and claimed that everyone from the temple priest to stakeholders like the representative from the erstwhile royal family and a cross-section of devotees agreed to this viewpoint.
Former member of parliament and leader of ruling Communist Party of India (Marxist) T.N. Seema drew parallels of the dress code to restrictions against women wearing blouses in Kerala decades ago. Devaswom minister Kadakampally Surendran told PTI that the government will take an appropriate decision on the matter “after looking into all aspects.”