New procedure to elect head priests of Sabarimala
Thiruvananthapuram: Head priests of the
Sabarimala Ayyappa temple will now be selected by a special
selection committee comprising members of the Travancore
Devaswom Board among others.
The committee will interview the applicants, award
marks and select the head priests or `melsantis` of both
Sabarimala and Malikappuram temples, TDB president M
Rajagopalan Nair told reporters here on Monday.
The TDB manages the Lord Ayyappa hill shrine.
The new procedure was adopted against the backdrop of
discussions initiated by former Supreme Court judge K T
Thomas, who was appointed by the apex court as a mediator
to resolve the disputes in the matter.
"There have been disputes about the selection process
of head priests of Sabarimala for more than a decade. TDB used
to select the priests earlier for a long period. However,
members of Thazhamon Madom also became the part of the
selection committee since 2002," Nair said.
The erstwhile Pandalam royal family had approached the
court along with the `thantri` (priest) family claiming rights
in priests` selection following which the court appointed
Thomas as a mediator, he said.
All parties including the royal house and `thantri`
family had agreed to the setting up of the new selection
committee, he said.
Besides, TDB members, the panel will also have two
`thantris` of Thazhamon Madom and an expert `thantri` from
The selection committee will be valid for a year. But
the same procedure will be adopted for its composition every