THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Over 550 women from the banned age group of 10 to 50 years have registered online for prayers at the Sabarimala temple during the upcoming Makaravilakku festival season beginning on November 16.
According to the report from the Travancore Devasom Board, till Friday almost 3.50 lakh pilgrims have booked for 'darshan' through online facility. It includes 550 women between 10 and 50 years.
The Kerala police online booking facility for darshan at Sannidhanam started on October 30.
The devotees from all over the world can book time slots for darshan through ‘www.sabarimalaq.com’ website. The portal had more details, information and guidelines which are very useful for the Sabarimala Pilgrims, with multi-language support.
To regulate and streamline the devotees at Sabarimala, the Kerala Police had designed and developed software titled "Sabarimala Virtual Q-System" which was introduced in the 2011-12 season and was continued in 2012-13, 2013-14, 2014-15 seasons.
“The pilgrims could select the date and time of joining the queue, by accessing the Web Portal and they were provided accommodation in the Queue subject to availability”, the police sources had said in a statement.
While registering, the pilgrims had to furnish their name, age, address, photograph, details of photo identity card, etc. After successful booking, pilgrims have to download and print their coupons.
The Virtual-Q Coupon contains the date and time of darshan, name and photograph of the pilgrim, barcode, etc. The pilgrims should carry these coupons and the photo identity card, which used for registration.
Devotees should produce the Coupon and Photo Identity Card at the Queue Coupon Verification Counters. After verification card will be given back to the pilgrim along with a verified coupon.
Devotees can select the date and time of darshan from the calendar displayed in the website. Those who book through online will get the to-and-from tickets of Kerala State Road Transport Corporation buses, which operate services from Nilackal to Pamba.
According to the darshan timing, devotees can book buses from Nilakkal to Pamba and vice versa. Each ticket will be valid only for 48 hours so that all devotees should complete their darshan within 48 hours.
State-run Kerala State Road Transport Corporation will operate ring-route services between Nilakkal and Pamba and private vehicles will not be allowed beyond Nilakkal.
Both temple authorities and protesters stopped almost 15 women from the 10-50 age group from praying at the Lord Ayyappa shrine in October and November despite a September 28 Supreme Court ruling that allowed all women to enter the hilltop shrine.
On September 28, the five-judge bench headed by former Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra lifted the entry ban on women in the temple, saying the centuries-old custom at the shrine was not an essential religious practice and “the attribute of devotion to divinity cannot be subjected to the rigidity and stereotypes of gender”.
As a reaction of this verdict, the Sabarimala temple and surrounding areas witnessed a string of protest. Over 3,500 people have been arrested so far and more than 529 cases registered in connection with the protests and demonstrations.
The main charges against the suspects are attacking police officers, violating the SC order, attacking women pilgrims and journalists, vandalising public property and breaking prohibitory orders.
Kerala Police is ready to play a crucial role for the smooth running of Sabarimala Festival.
According to the police sources, the duty place spread over a vast area of Sabarimala premises and a temporary Police Station will function at Sannidanam for the entire season, for the maintenance of law and order.
The major services rendered by Kerala police at Sabarimala are, ensuring safety and security of Sabarimala and pilgrims, providing facilities for good darshan by proper crowd control, maintaining smooth traffic system, managing an efficient vehicle parking system, providing security for ‘Thanka Anki Thiruvabharanam’ procession, providing ambulance service, ensuring effective disaster management , maintaining law and order, preventing the occurrence of crimes.
The shrine had opened on October 18, the first time after the Supreme Court's verdict, allowing women in menstruating age groups to enter the temple.
Then the temple reopened on the evening of November 5, to celebrate 'Chithira Attavisesham' the birth anniversary of Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma, the last king of Travancore.
After that, the door will open on November 16 evening for the three-month-long Mandalam Makaravilakku celebrations.
Ahead of the next pilgrimage, the Supreme Court on November 13 will hear a batch of petitions against its September verdict.