Even though they have the support of a high court order, women wearing churidar were blocked in front of Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, by a group of extreme Hindu activists on Wednesday. The situation has finally forced the administration to put the order on hold.
Following a court order, executive office K N Satheesh took a decision to include churidar into the dress code on Tuesday. The chairman of the temple administrative committee, K Haripal took stand against altering the centuries-old tradition.
The decision instigated the conservative Hindu outfits and resulted in the gheraoing of the women who were trying to enter the temple wearing churidar. They also blocked the roads to the temple during the protest. Executive officer sought the police protection for the women immediately. He said he was planning to communicate with the court about all these developments regarding the new move.
The High Court took a favourable stand towards the petition filed by Riya Raji from Thiruvananthapuram after the administrative committee rejected her petition to allow women wearing salwar to enter the temple. Then the High Court ordered the executive officer to provide a directive regarding this issue within one month. As per the court order, they conducted a hearing 14 days before understand how the public would receive this move. Executive officer says that the suggestion to change the dress code received overwhelming feedback from women.
So far, to enter the temple, women have to wear a saree or a skirt with blouse, or they have to wear a mundu over the pants or churidar. Considering this as an obsolete dress code, women have been raising a demand for a change in it for years.
However, the response the new order has received from conservatives will be a setback. It’s going to create a new controversy in the state. Even different Hindu organisations have different take on the issue. BJP state general secretary Shobha Surendran said that she supported the new move and found no issues in women entering the temple wearing churidar. She demanded for a more elaborate discussion before implementing a new rule that breaks an age old tradition.
Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran said to media that the government would take an appropriate decision on the issue after checking with all aspects. The protesters finally stopped the road blockade after they had got the confirmation from the district judge, who is also the chairman of the temple administrative committee, that the order would be put on hold.