Thiruvananthapuram, May 28 : The Kerala State Human Rights Commission has asked the Travancore Devaswom Board to allow male employees at Lord Ayyappa temple to wear underwear while counting currency notes and coins offered by devotees.
Earlier, the staff at the hill shrine of Sabarimala had to strip themselves of all clothing, except their dhotis, before entering the counting chamber.
The temple authorities enforced this practice after they found that money was being smuggled out, concealed in the undergarments.
The employees of the temple were silently suffering the insult because of the misdeeds of a few.
"This is the 21st century, the present system is questioning the self confidence of the employees working in the Sabarimala temple. Amidst the tough climate, the staffs have to face the harassments," said G. Baiju, General Secretary of Travancore Devaswom Employees Front.
"The Travancore Devaswom Board staffs from many places are requesting us to not include them in the cash duty at Bhandaram (treasury) because of the harassment. Employees are not against the security check but cannot suffer degrading security checks any more and cannot strip themselves before the young security officers," he added.
The Kerala State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) has asked the Travancore Devaswom Board to withdraw the dress code that barred staff employees who are trusted with counting money at the shrine from wearing underwear.
More than 600 employees engaged in counting currency notes and coins offered by devotees will benefit from Justice N. Dhinakar's order.
"This is a good thing; the present system is not in anywhere, now all the new most modern techniques are available. We all staffs are very happy," said Jaya Kumar, an employee.
The State Human Rights Commission Chairman, Justice N Dinkar has issued guidelines to the Travancore Devaswom Board to install modern technical equipment to carry out the security checks.
The Board admittedly contemplated to keep a vigil on the employees in the strong room at Sabarimala temple, as early as possible before the next pilgrimage season.
For eight long years the employees of the so-called place of the gods, had undergone great shame after several cases of theft were reported and the Travancore Devaswom Board enforced the practice of barring employees from wearing undergarments.
Travancore Devaswom Employees' Front leaders told that this humiliating security check was being carried out even after the continuous surveillance by Closed-circuit TV cameras.
G. Baiju, who filed the petition before the commission, said that he is contented with decision and the judgment day of the State Human Rights Commission will be worth writing down in golden letters in the history of the Travancore Devaswom Board Employees Front.
An employee who worked in the counting chamber, seeking anonymity told that this security check has been causing mental agony to those engaged in counting of currency notes.
However the Travancore Devaswom Board president C.K Guptan was not available for comment. Secretary of the Board filed a reply saying that the Board was planning to install modern technical equipment that would redress the grievances of the temple employees.
Sabarimala is the second busiest temple in southern India after Tirupati, visited by nearly 50 million people during the special pilgrimage season.
It also receives a huge amount of donations in the form of cash, gold, silver and diamond jewellery.
Last year revenue collection at Sabarimala during the Mandalam-Makaravilakku period alone was worth Rs 80 crore.