The centuries-old Padmanabha Swamy temple today decided to relax its dress code for women, permitting devotees to wear the traditional Indian salwar kameez and churidar while worshipping at the shrine but the temple's senior Tantri (priest) has voiced opposition to the decision.
Earlier, women devotees had to wear a 'mundu' (dhoti) over their waist if they were attired in salwars and churidars before entering the famous shrine, considered the richest Hindu temple in the world.
"A decision was taken today to allow women to wear salwar kameez and churidars..From this evening itself, devotees can offer worship wearing salwars and churidars," Temple Executive officer K N Sateesh told PTI.
The Kerala High Court had recently disposed of a petition seeking permission to allow women to wear salwars and churidars inside the temple after directing the Executive officer to decide within 30 days on the matter.
Sateesh said he had received mails and mass petitions from devotees, especially women, seeking a direction to temple authorities to permit wearing of salwar kameez and churidars inside the shrine.
Devotees from all over the country visit the shrine throughout the year and had been wanting a change in the dress code. "Keralites have also wanted this saying it was more convenient..There is no justification for wearing a mundu on top of the salwars or churidars. It is a mockery," he said.
Sateesh said he had received several letters from IAS officers, scientists, doctors and from ordinary persons also seeking permission to be allowed to wear churidars as it was a 'decent and dignified dress'.
Salwar kameez and churidars were being allowed as it was a traditional Indian attire, he said, adding, however, jeans, tights and such other dresses will not be permitted.
Meanwhile, the temple's senior Tantri (priest) Nedumpilli Tharanalloor Parameshwaran Namboodiripad has voiced opposition to allowing women to wear salwar and churidar, saying it was against customs and age old traditions of the shrine.
The present dress code should continue, he informed the Administrative Committee and Executive officer, temple sources said.
The Administrative Committee has also said that the present dress code should be continued.
"Such a decision has been taken after obtaining the written opinion of Tantri and also after gathering the opinion of other stake holders like the Trustee, 'Ettara Yogam functionaries' and a cross section of the devotees," the committee said.
"It is of the firm view that these kinds of issues which
are superfluous are being raked up, only to sideline other important matters affecting the temple and its administration," the committee said, adding, "the age old tradition in vogue cannot be changed without wider consultation."
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.
The Guruvayoor Sri Krishna temple had in 2007 amended its strict dress code for women devotees to allow them to enter the temple wearing salwar and churidars. Earlier, only those in sarees and traditional full skirts were allowed inside.
The Padmanabha Swamy temple, built in an intricate fusion of the indigenous Kerala style and Dravidian style of architecture, has Lord Vishnu enshrined in the "Anantha Shayanam" posture, the eternal yogic sleep on the serpent Adisheshan, as its presiding deity.