Why in news
The Travancore Devaswom Board, which oversees the Sabarimala temple, was recently ordered by the Kerala High Court to take all necessary measures to ensure that pilgrims worship at the temple grounds in a proper manner. The decision was made by a divisional bench comprising Justices Anil K. Narendran and PG. Ajithkumar in response to reports of pilgrims playing with instruments at the Sabarimala Sannidhanam's Sopanam while carrying movie celebrity posters.
The Sabarimala Sree Dharma Sastha Temple
The Sabarimala Sree Dharma Sastha Temple is located within the Periyar Tiger Reserve, a well-known pilgrimage site in Kerala where thousands of pilgrims journey across the difficult Western Ghats terrain to see Lord Ayyappa. The Travancore Devaswom Board is responsible for Malikappuram Temple and Sabarimala Sree Dharma Sastha Temple.
The Hindu Religious Institutions Act, 1950
Travancore-Cochin The State Legislature passed the Hindu Religious Institutions Act, 1950, which provides for the management, oversight, and control of Devaswoms, both incorporated and unincorporated, as well as other Hindu Religious Endowments and Funds.
Section 15A of the act
The Act's Section 15A, which was added by Act 5 of 2007 and took effect on April 12, 2007, addresses the Board's responsibilities. According to Section 15A, the Board is responsible for carrying out the duties such as : ensuring that the regular traditional rites and ceremonies in accordance with the practise prevalent in religious institutions are performed promptly, ensuring that the administrative officials and employees etc.
Section 24 of the act
5. The Act's Section 24 addresses the maintenance of Devaswoms and other entities using Devaswom Fund. According to Section 24, the Board must keep the Devaswoms listed in Schedule I [i.e., incorporated Devaswoms] in good repair, maintain the temples, buildings, and other appurtenances thereto etc.
Travancore Devaswom Board
The Travancore Devaswom Board is required by the Travancore-Cochin Hindu Religious Institutions Act to establish and maintain suitable facilities in Sabarimala for the devotees as well as to ensure that the regular traditional rites and ceremonies in accordance with the practise prevalent there are performed promptly.
What was the order
The Court noted that these events were not favourable, "A person who expresses respect and adoration for a deity is described as a "worshipper" by Oxford Dictionary. It goes without saying that the right to worship is a civil right, subject to the customs and traditions of each temple and should be practised in the usual way."
In order to maintain a smooth flow of pilgrims, particularly during busy festival seasons like the current Mandala-Makaravilakku celebration, it was stated that the limits established at Sabarimala are applicable to all worshippers who are duty-bound to follow such restrictions.
Sopanam Officer should not have allowed pilgrim to play drum in front of Sopanam of Sabarimala Sannidhanam, according to the Court.
The Travancore Devaswom Board's standing counsel informed the court that the Sopanam Officer had been served with a show-cause notice, which the court noted. With further instructions to the Board to take the appropriate actions to guarantee that such situations do not occur again, the case was dismissed.