SABARIMALA: While the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) is exploring legal options to oust Sabarimala thantri Kandararu Rajeevaru, the Kerala Thantri Samajam, an umbrella organisation of thantris in the state, has decided to support and extend all possible help to him.
Sources said the TDB has contacted many thantris seeking their willingness to take over as Sabarimala thantri. However, no member of the Thantri Samajam has accepted the offer. It has been learnt that the Devaswom Vigilance wing has prepared a list of 19 thantris willing to accept the offer. However 16 of them are non-brahmins. The Thantri Samajam has decided to approach the Supreme Court against any move to remove the thantri.
“Supreme Court had said in its verdict in the 1954 Shirur Mutt case that the thantri has the sovereign right to decide on temple rituals and practices. The role of the Devaswom Board is limited to the administration of the temple. The board cannot remove a thantri and appoint another person as it is hereditary. If they decide to remove Rajeevaru, we will approach the Supreme Court,” said Thantri Samajam general secretary Plakkudy Unnikrishnan Namboothiri.
“The covenant entered into by the Travancore King in May 1949 and concurred by the Government of India has specifically said the Devaswom Board’s right is limited to administration. The thantri is part of the review petition filed before the Supreme Court and he will explain his stand in the court. As per the practice, the Devaswom assistant commissioner invites the thantri to perform the rituals and pays him TA, DA and Dakshina. He is not an employee of the board,” said Kalidasa Bhattathiripad.
TDB member K P Sankardas reiterated his stand that the Board has the right to take disciplinary action against the thantri. “We had removed thantri Kandararu Mohanaru earlier following allegations. The Thazhamon family had accepted the action. We haven’t discussed the action to be taken against Rajeevaru. It will be decided after getting his explanation,” he said.