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Govt Not to Interfere in Temple Customs And Traditions: CM Oommen Chandy

Amid debate on the issue of entry of women in the age group of 10 to 50 in the Lord Ayyappa Temple at Sabarimala, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy today made it clear that his government would not interfere in the customs and traditions of the hill shrine. "Government doesn't interfere beyond a point on matters with regard to (religious) customs and faith," Chandy said when asked about the stand of his government on the issue.

The Chief Minister, who is in the midst of the assembly election campaign, said his government has already made its stand clear on the issue of Sabarimala where entry of women in the age group of 10 to 50 is banned. "There are persons who have the right to deal with matters related to faith and customs...Let them take decisions on such issues," Chandy told PTI, reacting to a query.

When it was pointed out that some Hindu organisations and even the RSS have supported women's entry at temples, Chandy said, "We don't want to get into that controversy." "This is a matter related to customs and faith. There are people who have the right to take decisions on such issues," he said. Last week, two religious bodies moved the Supreme Court supporting a PIL seeking entry of women in the Sabarimala Temple, saying no ritual or customs can be used as grounds to discriminate against women in the matter of worship.

Kerala-based bodies-- Hind Navothana Pratishtan, through President Swami Bhoomananda Tirtha and Narayanashrama Tapovanam, through its Managing Trustee Swami Bhoomananda Tirtha, have filed the plea seeking to intervene in the PIL, being heard by a bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra. "No temple ritual, ceremony or custom can be made any ground for discriminating against women in the matter of worshipping in any temple, including Sabarimala, as it is a clear violation of the constitutional equality and freedom guaranteed for men and women alike," the plea, filed through lawyer Ravi P Mehrotra, has said.

Earlier, the court had said gender equality was a "constitutional message" and ban on entry of women of a particular age group in Sabarimala shrine cannot be claimed as a right to manage religious affairs by its management. On January 11, the apex court had questioned the ban on the entry of women of menstrual age group at the Lord Ayyappa temple, while hearing the PIL.

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