All eyes on SC as Sabarimala season begins next week

With just one week left for the annual Sabarimala pilgrimage season to begin, all eyes are on the Supreme Court judgement on the review petitions against last year's order of lifting ban on entry of women in the 10-50 age bracket to the Ayyappa temple.

The Supreme Court order is likely before November 15, the last working day of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi. The annual Sabarimala pilgrimage is scheduled to begin on November 16 and end by January 20.

Kerala government, police, political parties and devotees are eagerly awaiting the order on the review petitions to decide future course of action, even as a group of women activists under the banner of Manithi Sangham announced their plans to visit the temple this year after Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan reiterated that the government was bound to implement the SC order.

BJP state general secretary K Surendran, who led the stirs against entry of women in 10-50 age to the hill shrine during the last pilgrimage season, said that so far there was no change in BJP's stand on the Sabarimala issue. "We are awaiting SC order on the review petition to decide future steps. Most likely the SC order would be in our favour," he said.

A senior IPS officer said that so far no heavy police deployment was planned at Sabarimala like that of the previous year. But a final call would be taken after reviewing the developments in the coming days, especially the Supreme Court order on the review petitions.

Selvi, a member of Manithi Sangham, who was among the women who were blocked by a violent mob at the beginning of the trekking path to Sabarimala last year, told a television channel that already couple of women from Chennai, Karnataka and West Bengal expressed desire to visit the Ayyappa shrine. A group of at least ten women from various states were likely to visit Sabarimala, she said.

It may be recalled that the SC delivered a landmark judgment in September 2018 lifting the years-long ban imposed on entry of women in 10-50 age group (menstruating age) to the shrine citing the celibacy of the presiding deity. 

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