Sabarimala: ample amenities being planned for women

The CPM-led Kerala Government on Monday firmed up women-friendly measures for pilgrimage to the Ayyappa Temple in Sabarimala

The CPM-led Kerala Government on Monday firmed up women-friendly measures for pilgrimage to the Ayyappa Temple in Sabarimala as it prepared to implement the Supreme Court judgment allowing entry of women of all ages to the temple.

At a high-level meeting chaired by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan here, a proposal to create amenities for woman pilgrims at the idathavalams (halting points) en route to the hill shrine and the base camp of Nilakkal was cleared. More washrooms and exclusive bathing ghats are part of the plan. About 40 million pilgrims visit the shrine every year. With women aged between 10 and 50 years now allowed to enter the temple and the annual pilgrimage season set to commence mid-November, the government is bracing for tough deadlines.

The Kerala State Road Transport Corporation will reserve 25 % seats in buses from Nilakkal to Pampa for woman pilgrims and open exclusive waiting stations for women at Nilakkal. Five of the 15 ticket counters at Nilakkal will function exclusively for women. The shrine will also have woman police personnel and volunteers to manage the crowds.

To ensure effective crowd management, the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) which manages administration of the temple is set to open digital booking facilities. The government expects the move to help in preparing adequate security on a daily basis. Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran said separate queues for women were not being considered. “The women will have to wait in queues for eight or ten hours. Those who visit the temple have to be prepared for that,” he told reporters.

As part of crowd control measures, restrictions would be imposed on pilgrims staying overnight at the sanctum sanctorum. The TDB will discuss with the tantri (head priest) possibilities of extending the darshan and puja timings.

BJP PREPARES FOR STIR

The state unit of BJP which had initially called for a policy of consensus in implementing the apex court order on Monday said the party would oppose CPM’s attempts to undermine the importance of the temple and its belief systems. State president P S Sreedharan Pillai said in Kozhikode that the party’s units Yuva Morcha and Mahila Morcha would commence a phased stir from October 3. P G Sasikumar Varma of the erstwhile Pandalam royal family – the family is custodian of the temple jewels – said moves to counter the judgment would be finalised after discussion with legal experts.

 

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Sabarimala: ample amenities being planned for women

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