Thiruvananthapuram : An investigation is underway into a photograph purportedly showing presence of women in the restricted age group at the Sabarimala Ayyappa temple. The police officials who were in charge of screening the devotees have stated that though the women looked young, they were above the restricted age group of 50. The picture being circulawomen enteringted in the social media shows a group of women, including two in churidar, staying close to the sanctum sanctorum and offering prayers. They were believed to have secured the ‘VIP darshan’ facility with the help of a leading cashew businessman in Kollam, who is a known Sabarimala devotee.
Devaswom minister Kadakampally Surendran ordered the probe by Travancore Devaswom Board’s (TDB) vigilance wing as entry of women in the age group of 10 to 50 is banned by custom at the Sabarimala shrine. The minister even got a complaint that the women managed to enter by misusing the VIP darshan facility being enjoyed by the Kollam-based businessman. “If anybody is enjoying undue benefits in the name of VIP darshan, it would be strictly checked,” the minister said in a statement. TDB sources said that the entry of the women under question took place on April 10 or 11.
The police officials who used to screen the devotees at Pamba maintained that they though couple of women in the group looked young, they were examined and even produced valid proofs for age. Meanwhile, a fresh allegation was raised over the opening time of the temple on the Vishu day. It was alleged that the opening time was altered in violation of the rituals. However, sources close to the temple said that it was the temple ‘thantri’ who used to decide the opening time and there were no change in that practice during this year also.
Source : Deccan Chronicle