The Sabarimala head priest should have quit if he was not ready to accept the Supreme Court verdict, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said today, criticising the priest for conducting "purification" rituals after two women entered the temple.
The priest, Kandararu Rajeevaru, closed the Lord Ayyappa temple and performed "purification" rituals on Wednesday after two women of menstruating age -- Bindu and Kanaka Durga, both in their early 40s -- entered the hilltop shrine around 3.45 am on Wednesday, becoming the first to do so since the Supreme Court order on September 28.
"A strange thing happened at the Ayyappa temple yesterday. The 'tantri' (priest) closed the shrine and performed the purification rituals. This was violation of the SC verdict," the chief minister said.
"The 'tantri' should have quit, if he had any objection to the apex court order as he was also a party to the case," he said.
The court had also heard the priest before delivering the verdict, the chief minister added.
He was referring to the Supreme Court order ending the Sabarimala shrine's decades-old ban on women of menstrual age, or between 10 and 50 years.
The priest had pointed out that there was a violation of tradition at Sabarimala after the women entered the shrine on Wednesday morning, Mr Vijayan said.
Kerala has been witnessing violent protests since yesterday. The shrine and many devotees have refused to accept the Supreme Court order, saying it is inimical to their belief that women below 50 should not be allowed near the deity Lord Ayyappa, a celibate god.