As the Sabrimala Temple is scheduled to open today for the Mandala Pooja Festival, the police have sent back 10 women from Pamba on Saturday. The women (between the age of 10 to 50) had come from Andhra Pradesh to offer prayers at the temple. The government said that those women who want to visit the temple will have to get a 'court order'. Women from all age groups will be allowed inside the premises of the hill temple, however, no protection will be given to them.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court had referred the review petitions against its 2018 judgment of allowing entry to women of all ages into the Sabarimala shrine to a seven-judge bench earlier this week.
With the two-month-long annual pilgrimage season set to commence from today, Devaswom minister Kadakampally Surendran said Sabarimala is not a place for activism and the LDF government would not support those who make announcements about entering the hill shrine for the sake of publicity.
A senior official in the Devaswom ministry said: "Resting area for 9,000 devotees have been arranged at Nilackal where there is a parking area for over 9,000 vehicles also. There are over 1000 toilets, 120 urinals and 60 bathrooms at Nilackal."
Similarly at Pamba, the Board has arranged facilities for 3000 people to rest. The board has also set up five emergency medical centers. The Kerala State Road Transport Corporation has decided to deploy 150 buses to transport devotees between Pamba and Nilackal, a distance of around 18 km. The KSRTC has also arranged special services from almost all parts of the state to Pamba and Nilackal.
Last year, the Ayyappa temple in Pathanamthitta district had witnessed violent protests by right-wing outfits and devotees over the September 28, 2018, order of the apex court allowing women of all age groups, including those in the menstruating age, to offer prayers at the hill shrine.
(With inputs from agencies)
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