Alappuzha: The Travancore Devaswom Board will soon have to contend with the claims of the Mala Araya tribal community to perform its traditional rituals at the Sabarimala temple. The community has decided to move the Supreme Court against the TDB decision to oust it from the temple after the board was formed in 1950.
K. K. Gangadharan, general secretary, Akhila Thiruvithamkoor Mala Araya Maha Sabha (ATMAMS), told Deccan Chronicle that the Sabha would meet on Sunday to decide the legal course of action.
The Mala Arayas are believed to have established the hill shrine, which was taken over by the Pandalam royal family and later by the TDB. The rituals performed by the Mala Arayas included Thenabhishekam (bathing the deity with honey) and lighting of Makaravilakku. These and the post of Velichappadu (oracle) were abolished by the TDB.
Mr Gangadharan said that the sabha had the right to do puja at the sub-deity in the Karimala temple on the Sabarimala trekking path.
Their rights were recognised by the Pandalam royals and Thazhamon tantri family till 1950. However, many temples on which they had rights were taken over by the TDB, including the Valliyankavu temple in Kottayam district.
“Now we have only 24 temples and most of them are being managed by Mala Araya members,” he said.
He pointed out that they did not support the Supreme Court verdict allowing all women of all ages to worship at Sabarimala temple. “Several rituals and customs of the temple, including the age bar and the 41-day penance, are part of the tribal culture. Our women do not visit temples during menstruation,” he said.
The community wanted to get legal protection for their age-old customs, he said....