Will back party respecting temple customs: Ayappa devotees

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New Delhi, March 19 (IANS) In more trouble for the Pinarayi Vijayan government in Kerala, an Ayyappa devotees body on Tuesday said it will throw its weight behind the party which agrees to its demands, including protecting the age-old rituals of the Sabarimala temple.

Addressing a press conference here, Sabarimala Ayyappa Seva Samajam (SASS) General Secretary Erode Rajan said that they have been meeting various parties in the national capital with their 18-point charter of demands and whoever agrees to it will get its full support.

“There are about 4.5-5 crore devotees of Ayyappa from southern states and elsewhere. Every devotee has at least four voters in his/her family, that makes it 20 crore voters in all… We have decided that whoever supports our demands, will get our backing. We will issue instructions to the devotees to that effect,” he said.

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The SASS gave its charter to the Communist Party of India-Marxist, which leads the Left Democratic Front government in the state, on Tuesday, and will give the same to the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress on Wednesday. It said it expected to get a reply from them within two to three days.

The decision was taken at a National Executive meeting held by the SASS during February 23-24 in Bengaluru.

A controversy erupted in Kerala after the Supreme Court’s September 28, 2018 verdict allowing women of all ages entry to Sabarimala, the ancient temple of deity Ayyappa, who is considered a celibate according to legends.

The temple has become a hotbed for clashes between the Ayyappa devotees who are against the decision and those who support it.

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The other demands of the Samajam include, taking Sabarimala and other temples connected with it taken out of government control and handed over to an autonomous body made up of devotees and temple authorities.

The resolution is seen to benefit the BJP, which has been opposing the entry of women to Sabarimala and is now very likely to accept the demands also.

–IANS

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