Despite the state government's consent on opening temples in Kerala, Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran said on Thursday that the Sabarimala temple will not be opened for public for the monthly prayers under the present pandemic scenario.

Indian Hindu devotees are pictured at the Lord Ayyappa temple in Sabarimala in the southern state of Kerala on November 16, 2018. - Indian police mounted a major security operation on November 16 to prevent hardliners blocking women from entering one of Hinduism's holiest shrines despite a court order.ARUN SANKAR/AFP/Getty Images

Kerala shuts down entry to Sabarimala 

Kerala, known for its immaculate handling of the coronavirus pandemic, has but seen a steady rise in its confirmed Covid cases, particularly after welcoming the inter-state and international travelers.

Considering the risk, the Devaswom minister announced the decision after a meeting with the temple chief priest.

Earlier, the BJP had criticised the CPI (M)-led Kerala government for allowing temples under the state-funded Devaswom Board to open for devotees. Senior BJP leader and Union Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan mentioned the move raises suspicions.

"Covid-19 cases are steadily going up in Kerala. When the state's Covid-19 preventive model goes out of control, the attempt of the government is to dodge responsibility by leaving temples open," he said.

"Several temples outside the Devaswom Board have decided not to open. But you (Pinarayi Vijayan) are going ahead with the decision aimed at not the faithful but the money offered at the temples by devotees. This move would hurt the sentiments of the faithful,'' said the Minister.

BJP against the ruling party 

Meanwhile, BJP state president K Surendran mentioned the decision unfaithful. "Why is the government so keen to open Hindu temples when mosques and churches are not opening now? Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran is foisting his greed on the devotees. Hindu religious heads were not consulted before opening temples, whereas the government has considered the opinion of Muslim and Christian leaders regarding the opening of their places of worship,'' he added.

Pinarayi VijayanYouTube

Around 3,000 temples in Kerala function under the five devaswoms — temple affairs body controlled by the government.

On behalf of the Centre's 'Unlock 1' measures, it had allowed reopening of places of worship, malls, and restaurants from June 8 across the country.

While prominent temples in the state like the Guruvayoor Lord Krishna temple opened its doors to devotees, the Padmanabha Swamy temple in the state capital remained shut.

On the other hand, scores of other major temples run by Sangh Parivar backed Kshetra Samrakshana Samathi and upper-caste Hindu outfit Nair Service Society had also decided to defer the opening of temples till the end of this month.