Sabarimala temple reopens today for monthly worship amid tight security


THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Sabarimala temple will reopen today evening for five days for the Kumbh masa pooja amid tight security.

“The hilltop temple would be opened for five days till February 17 for the monthly pujas during the Malayalam month of Kumbam”, Devaswam Board authorities said on Monday.

“The 'sanctum sanctorum' would be open by chief priest Vasudevan Nampoothiri and Tantri (head priest) Kandararu Rajeevaru would also be present during the time”, they added.

The shrine is opening at the first time when the court has reserved the verdict of review petitions. The police assume that more women will come to visit the shrine.

As per the report, the Kerala state administration has deployed hundreds of police personnel in Pamba and surrounding areas as a precautionary measure to avoid the violence.

Pathanamthitta DySP has requested the police Chief to declare prohibitory in the premises till February 17, when the shrine closes.

The section of Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), which prohibits assembly of more than four people at a place has been put in place, as the state braces for a bout of fresh protests against the entry of women into the hill shrine.

ADGPs Anil Kanth and Anantha Krishnan are responsible for the security.

The state had witnessed huge protests by Lord Ayyappa devotees opposing the entry of girls and women in 10-50 age group into the Sabarimala temple when the state government decided to implement the September 28 Supreme Court order.

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”.

The shrine had opened on October 18, 2018, the first time after the Supreme Court's verdict, allowing women in menstruating age groups to enter the temple.

Later, the temple opened again on the evening of November 5 for the 'Chithira Attavisesham' to celebrate the birth anniversary of Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma, the last king of Travancore.

After that, the temple opened for annual pilgrimage season on November 16, 2018, and closed on January 20.

Only the members of the royal family of Pandalam are allowed on that day. The last day for other devotees was January 19.

Nearly four months after the top court permitted women of all ages to enter the temple, only two women aged below 50 entered the Lord Ayyappa temple to offer their prayers.

On January 2, Kanaka Durga (44) and Bindu Ammini (42) came to limelight and made history by becoming the first women below 50 in decades to enter the hilltop shrine after the epic verdict of the apex court of the nation.

The tantri Kandaru Rajeevaru had closed the sanctum sanctorum to perform the 'purification' ceremony after confirming the young women entry.

Violence involving the BJP-RSS and the ruling CPI(M) rocked parts of Kerala during the January 3 hartal.

Meanwhile, protests broke out across the state with agitators pelting stones and blocking the national highways and forced closure of shops and markets located various parts of the region.

Following threats by protesters, the two women had gone into hiding for almost two weeks after entering the hill shrine, they had been staying in an undisclosed location on the outskirts of Kochi.

Later, both of them came before the public in the recent ' AArppo Aarthavam' programme organised by some activist groups in Kochi to ‘celebrate menstruation’ on January 13.

On February 4, Kerala Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran had said the government has confirmation about only two women in the age of 10-50, who entered at the Sabarimala temple.

“There was no confirmation on the age of a Sri Lankan woman who visited the temple in January”, he had said.

On January 18, Kerala government had submitted a note to the Supreme Court and informed the top court that as many as 51 women have entered the Lord Ayyappa temple in Sabarimala since the apex court allowed women of all age groups to enter the hill shrine.

“Over 16 lakh devotees have done the online registration for 'darshan' in the Sabarimala temple and out of this 8.2 lakh have visited the shrine. A total of 7,564 women between the age of 10 and 50 have registered for darshan,” the government had informed the apex court.

Traditionally, women of menstruating age or in the age group of 10 to 50 years were not allowed to enter the temple as the deity, Lord Ayyappa, is believed to be in the form of "Naishtika Brahmachari" (perennial celibate).


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