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A day after relaxation of the age old dress code for women entering the ancient Sree Padmanabha Swamy temple here, confusion prevailed today with its administrative committee asking the Executive Officer to withdraw his decision after protests surfaced.
The order of Executive Officer K N Sateesh allowing entry of women attired in 'salwar kameez and churidar', doing away with the earlier requirement of wearing a 'mundu' (dhoti) over the churidar for offering worship, triggered protests from various Hindu organisations in front of the temple.
Some women devotees early in the day entered the temple wearing salwar kameez and churidar, but they were prevented briefly by temple officials after the Supreme Court-appointed Administrative committee of the shrine intervened.
District Judge and Chairman of the committee, K Haripal, today wrote a letter to EO, asking him to withdraw the order.
Confirming receipt of the letter, Sateesh, however, said he was convinced about the decision taken and had already informed the Kerala High Court.
The court had yesterday directed him to consider the plea of a woman against 'forcing' women in salwars and churidars to wear the dhoti before entering the shrine and take appropriate action.
"I cannot make any changes now, without any specific direction from the high court. Many people have welcomed the decision', Sateesh told PTI.
Various Hindu outfits today protested in front of the temple against the decision to relax the dress code for women saying it was against the temple's tradition and rituals.
Expressing his displeasure over the protests, Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran said the stir was 'unnecessary'.
"There are many temples in the state which permit women to offer worship wearing churidar. People should be prepared to accept change with the passage of time," he said.
"Government will take an appropriate decision on the matter after looking into all aspects," he told reporters.
Some members of the Kerala Brahamanna Sabha squatted on the road leading to the western entrance of the shrine protesting the decision. However, women wearing salwar kameez and churidar entered through the eastern entrance amid the protest. Later, women in the attire were not allowed entry for a brief period following the committee's direction. A member of the sabha said the EO's decision was against the temple's centuries-old tradition. Their representatives met the administrative committee chairman on the matter. There has been mixed response to the new decision with Hindu Aikya Vedi Chairperson Shashikala Teacher stating the executive officer cannot take such a decision which was against the temple's rituals and tradition.
BJP leader Sobha Surendran said though personally she was not against women wearing salwar and churidar entering the temple, the EO should have discussed the matter with all concerned before taking such a decision. Well-known poetess, Sugathakumari said women dressed decently should be allowed inside the temple. "Women should go to the temple wearing decent dress. If a mundu is worn over a churidar, that is not right," she said. The temple's senior Tantri (priest) and administrative committee have voiced opposition to the EO's decision. According to temple customs, women should wear sarees, 'mundu and neriyathu' (set mundu), not cover their face while offering worship, while men have to wear mundu and be bare-chested.