Name change of Sabarimala Lord Ayyappa temple 'serious violation of rules': Kerala govt

Travancore Devaswom Board had announced on Monday that the Sabarimala Sree Dharma Sastha Temple would henceforth be known as Sabarimala Sree Ayyappaswamy temple.

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Controversy is brewing over renaming of the centuries old hill shrine of Lord Ayyappa at Sabarimala as Sabarimala Sree Ayyappaswamy temple, with Devaswom minister Kadakampally Surendran stating that he would seek an explanation from Travancore Devaswom Board, which maintains the famous shrine.

The government, which was taken by surprise by TDB's decision, said this was a "serious violation of rules" and it's approval was not sought, the minister said in a Facebook post. The temple, believed to have been established 1,800 years ago, is considered among the biggest and most ancient shrines Since then, it has been known as Sree Dharma Sastha temple and the board had no right to change it, Kadakampally said.

Stating that government would seek an explanation from the TDB President Prayar Gopalakrishnan, the minister said he was not aware of the board's intention behind such a move. "TDB had no right to change the temple's name and in such a secret manner. We fail to understand the intention behind the change of name", he said.

Kadakampally said he came to know of the name change through media reports. He claimed even the Sabarimala thantri (priest) was unaware of the decision and that none had asked him.

The Pandalam Royal family had also expressed similar sentiments, he added. The controversy has hit the famed temple at a time when the pilgrim season has begun and lakhs of devotees would be offering worship during the three month long period.

TDB had said on Monday that the Sabarimala Sree Dharma Sastha Temple would henceforth be known as Sabarimala Sree Ayyappaswamy temple and that the decision to change the name was taken at the Board's meeting on October 5.

The Devaswom said there are many Dharmasastha temples under it. But Sabarimala was the one and only holy seat in the world where Sree Ayyappaswamy presides and that was the reason why crores of devotees visit Sabarimala every year to have a darshan of Lord Ayyappaswamy.

The TDB, an autonomous body, administers 1,248 temples, including Sabarimala, in the erstwhile princely state of Travancore. 

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