Sabarimala temple opens for pilgrimage season
At least 10 women from Andhra Pradesh who had arrived to pray to Lord Ayyappa in Sabarimala were sent back, police said today.
The women were part of a 30-member group from Vijayawada.
'After they reached Pamba, police checked their identity cards and found that they were in the barred age group (of 10-50 years) and informed them about the current situation in Sabarimala. They did not proceed further,' police said.
The Pamba base camp is at the foothills of Sabarimala, about 5 km from the shrine.
The Ayyappa temple opened this evening for the two-month Mandala-Makaravillakku pilgrimage season.
.Devaswom minister Kadakampally Surendran has made it clear that Sabarimala was not a place for activists and said the government would not encourage women who want to visit the shrine for publicity.
The gates of the Ayyappa temple at Sabarimala were thrown open amid tight security.
Kandararu Mahesh Mohanararu opened the sanctum sanctorum of the temple at 5pm, and performed the puja, as hundreds of devotees from Kerala, Tamil Nadu and other neighbouring states thronged the shrine located in a reserve forest on the Western Ghats in Pathanamthitta district.
Devotees, who were allowed to trek the hill from 2pm, climbed the sacred 18 steps to the temple with the “irumudikettu (sacred bag containing the offerings to Ayyappa)” after the priests performed the “padi” puja.
The state and temple precincts had witnessed frenzied protests last year after the LDF government decided to implement the Supreme Court’s September 28, 2018, decision allowing women of all ages to offer prayers at the shrine.
However, this year, even though the top court has not stayed its verdict on the entry of young women into the shrine while posting various petitions on the matter to a larger bench, the government is exercising caution.