French team’s reported Sabarimala visit sparks row

February 18th, 2008 - 8:11 pm ICT by admin  

Thiruvananthapuram, Feb 18 (IANS) Kerala’s Sabarimala temple is in yet another row with reports that a French tourist delegation had visited Ponnambalamedu, a prohibited area near the temple. An anonymous person called up a member of the Travancore Devasom Board, the body that manages temples in South Kerala, saying that a 15-member French team had gone to Ponnambalamedu, the area where the ‘makkara jyoti’ or a miracle light appears every year.

“He did not disclose his identity but gave a detailed account. He said the French delegation, with permission from Central forest authorities, arrived and stayed at a guesthouse of the Kerala State Electricity Board near Sabarimala. On Feb 15, the delegation conducted a puja at Ponamabalmedu,” P. Narayanan, member of the Devasom Board, told IANS Monday.

“I have asked my officials for a detailed report,” he added.

State Forest Minister Binoy Viswom has also asked for an inquiry. State Devasom Minister G. Sudhakaran said he had heard about the matter from the media.

“There is no problem to conduct an inquiry. So far no one has brought this to my attention,” he said.

Millions of devotees throng the temple in Pathanamthitta district every year to witness the makara jyoti.

The temple has been in the news lately with the state government demanding entry for women devotees. The temple, dedicated to Lord Ayyappa, bars entry of women between the ages 10 and 50 - or those in the menstruating age.

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