Sabarimala reopens for five days amid heavy security

Sabarimala reopens for five days amid heavy security

The Sabarimala Ayyappa temple in Kerala opened for five days till February 17 for monthly pujas during the month of 'Kumbham' on Tuesday evening.

A heavy police deployment has been made from Nilakkal base camp to Sannidhanam (temple) in the wake of reports that women in the 10-50 age group will turn up for darshan. Though the police mooted imposing prohibitory orders in the region, the district administration would be taking a decision on it only after assessing the situations.

According to sources, the Left government in Kerala had directed the police to ensure protection to women who turn up for darshan, especially since the Supreme Court is at present considering a batch of petitions seeking review of an earlier order of the SC lifting the years-old ban on entry of women in the 10-50 age group to the hill shrine. The ban was imposed based on the belief that the presiding deity is celibate.

Meanwhile, the tension that prevailed at the Sabarimala during the recent pilgrimage season owing to protests against the entry of women was still causing concerns among many pilgrims. A youth who was on his way to the temple along with his daughter aged below ten said that he was even carrying his child's Aadhaar card too fearing protests.

Usually, the police used to make hardly any security arrangements when the temple opens for monthly pujas as the number of pilgrims turning up would be very low compared to the normal pilgrimage season from November to January. However, after the Supreme Court lifted the ban on entry of women in 10-50 group in September last, heavy police deployment was being made even during the time of monthly pujas owing to chances of tension in case of entry of women in that age group.

Attempts by several women to enter the shrine after the SC lifted the ban were prevented by the violent pilgrims. Even noted activist Trupti Desai had to return from Nedumbasserry airport in Kochi following protests.