In a historic first, Kerala’s Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple decided to ease the dress norms for women devotees, allowing them to wear salwar kameez and churidar while offering their prayers at the shrine.
This decision was taken after a woman advocate; Riya Raje issued a petition at the Kerala High Court demanding for women to be allowed to wear salwar kameez inside the temple premises, calling the existing rule discriminatory. Responding to her petition, the High Court had given the temple’s Executive officer, K N Sateesh 30 days to decide on the matter.
• The decision was made official by Sateesh on 29 November 2016. It will come into effective within a few days.
• This is not the first instance of someone raising a voice against the temple’s conservative rules. Sateesh revealed that they have previously received several mails and mass petitions from women devotees across the country and also from IAS officers and doctors.
• The mails and petitions were sent seeking permission for women to wear salwar kameez or churidar inside the temple, pointing out that it too falls under the ‘traditional Indian attire’ category.
• The much-criticised dress code of the Temple required men to wear dhoti while entering the temple and women to wear a saree, dhoti or Pavada and blouse. This caused a lot of inconvenience to thousands of women devotees who came to the temple to offer their prayers, as some were forced to stay out and others had to wrap a dhoti over their salwar in order to gain entry.
• While salwar suits have been allowed, modern outfits like jeans, sleeveless tops and dresses will still not be permitted.
• The announcement hasn’t gone down well with the Temple’s senior priest, Nedumpilli Tharanalloor Parameshwaran Namboodiripad, who has voiced a strong opposition to the decision, saying it is against the age-old traditions of the shrine.
About the Temple
• The century-old structure is located in Thiruvananthapuram, the capital city of Kerala.
• Featuring high walls and a 16th-century Gopuram, the temple has been built in Dravidian style.
• The principal god in the temple is Vishnu, who is enshrined in the ‘Anantha Shayanam’ posture (in eternal yogic sleep on the serpent).
• Only those who profess Hindu faith are permitted to enter the temple.
• A review of the temple’s six unopened vaults in 2010 led to the revealing of rare jewels, solid gold idols studded with precious stones, kilos of gold jewelry, crowns, coins bars and a heavily studded pure golden throne. This makes the temple one of the wealthiest places of worship in the world.