The Sabarimala Ayyappa temple in Kerala will open by 5 pm on March 11 for a ten-day long annual festival and poojas of the month of Meenam.
Even as there were no reports of any women groups planning to enter the temple this time, police would be making considerable deployment to prevent any untoward incident.
According to a statement from the Travancore Devaswom Board, the festival will begin with the flag hoisting ceremony at 7.30 am on March 12. Temple thantri Kandararu Rajeevararu and melshanthi V N Vasudevan Namboothiri will lead the rituals.
The festival will end on March 21 with a procession from Pamba to the Sannidhanam. Installation of a new gold plated door of the sanctum sanctorum will take place on March 11.
It may be recalled that the two-month-long annual pilgrimage season of the temple from November 2018 to January 2019, was tension-packed owing to protests against the entry of women in the 10-50 age group. But when the temple was opened for the five-day monthly pooja last month, there was no attempt by any woman to enter the temple.
The Supreme Court in September 2018 lifted the ban on the entry of women in the 10-50 age group. Two women, Bindu A and Kanaka Durga, managed to enter the temple on January 2. There were widespread allegations that the LDF government deliberately facilitated their entry.
The BJP-RSS is even making the Sabarimala issue a major political issue in Kerala, especially since the Lok Sabha elections are in the offing. A batch of review petitions against the order lifting the ban is still under SC’s consideration.