Security beefed up for Sabarimala Makaravilakku

Security beefed up for Sabarimala Makaravilakku

The Sabarimala Ayyappa temple in Kerala is gearing up for the ‘Makaravilakku’ fest under a tight police vigil.

Thousands of people from various states throng in the temple to witness the holy lamp (Makaravisu) that being lit at the Ponnambalamedu mountain ranges on the Makara Sankranthi day evening. This year, Sankranthi is on January 14.

The procession carrying the ‘Thiruvabharanam’ (ornaments of the Lord Ayyappa) from the Pandalam Palace, about 80 kilometres from the hill shrines, is beginning on Saturday. Ayyappa idol will be adorned with the ornaments on the Makaravilakku day.

Tightening the grip on those protesting against the entry of women in menstruating age to the hill shrine, the police have imposed restrictions that those who had taken part in the protests will not be allowed to join the procession carrying the ‘Thiruvabharanam’.

Pathanamthitta district police chief T Narayanan IPS have directed the Travancore Devaswom Board to give the list of the people who are carrying the Thiruvabharanam to the temple. A police clearance would be required to take part in the procession.

The police’s strategy is to keep the protesters off from the temple premises to avoid the chances of protests if any women in the 10-50 age group visits the temple during the Makaravilakku.

With the annual two month long pilgrimage season of the temple coming to an end by January 20, the police anticipates the chances of more women visiting the temple.

It may be recalled that the Supreme Court had lifted the ban imposed on women in 10-50 age group in September 2018. Since then, the BJP-RSS, Congress and various Hindutva outfits have been opposing entry of women in this age group. This has led to a tension at the hill shrine. Two women from north Kerala, Bindhu Hariaharan alias Bindhu Ammini and Kanakadurga, who managed to enter the temple on January 2, are not yet able to return home owing to threats from Hindutva outfits.

Meanwhile, four women reportedly reached Kottayam district from Andhra Pradesh on Friday to visit Sabarimala. The police are learnt to have advised them to proceed to Nilakkal, the base camp of the hill shrine, and seek protection. Police officials preferred to be tight-lipped on the whereabouts of the women owing to the chances of protests.