The Kerala High Court has directed the Travancore and Cochin Devaswom Boards to ensure that proper resting facilities are provided to Sabarimala pilgrims in the temples, also identified as ‘Edathavalams’, under their management.
A bench of Justices Anil K Narendran and P G Ajithkumar also directed the Assistant Devaswom Commissioners of both Boards to conduct periodical inspections in the temples or edathavalams in question to ensure that proper facilities are provided to Sabarimala pilgrims during the Mandala-Makaravilakku festival season scheduled to commence from November 17.
The directions came on a plea initiated by the high court on its own based on the report by the Special Commissioner, Sabarimala regarding the steps to be taken to provide adequate facilities to pilgrims at the ‘Edathavalams’ for the Mandala-Makaravilakku festival.
The bench said that according to the provisions of the Travancore-Cochin Hindu Religious Institutions Act of 1950, it was the duty of the two Devaswom Boards to ensure that the regular traditional rites and ceremonies according to the practice prevalent in the religious institutions are performed promptly and to establish and maintain proper facilities in the temples for the devotees.
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It also said that various high court decisions have held that any developmental activity in a temple which is not undertaken directly by the Board has to be undertaken through the Temple Advisory Committee.
”In view of the statutory provisions and also the law laid down in the decisions referred to supra, the 2nd respondent Travancore Devaswom Board and the additional 7th respondent Cochin Devaswom Board have a statutory duty to ensure that proper facilities are provided to Sabarimala pilgrims in the temples under its management, which are identified as Edathavalams,” the court said.
It further said that the Temple Advisory Committees of those temples have a statutory duty to render necessary assistance in providing proper facilities to Sabarimala pilgrims in the respective temples, which are identified as ‘Edathavalams’.
During the hearing, the Travancore Devaswom Board told the court that there are 52 ‘Edathavalams’ for the Sabarimala pilgrims in the temples managed by it.
The Cochin Devaswom Board said it has two ‘Edathavalams’ at Mudikkode and Chirangara temples in Thrissur district.
The Guruvayur Devaswom Managing Committee sought time to get details and the court listed the matter for further hearing on November 10.