As talks fail, will women enter Sabarimala today?

Ayyappa devotees participate in a peaceful protest rally against the Supreme Court decision to allow women of all ages to enter the Sabarimala temple, in Ahmedabad. (AFP File Pic)

A crucial meeting called by the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) with stakeholders on Tuesday failed to resolve issues pertaining to the entry of young women to the Sabarimala Ayyappa Temple.

The meeting was called as a final attempt to arrive at a consensus amid protests against the implementation of the Supreme Court judgement allowing women of all ages into to the temple.

The Sabarimala temple is set to open on Wednesday at 5 pm for the monthly pujas. P G Sasikumar Varma, a member of the erstwhile royal family of Pandalam, told reporters that the TDB did not commit on accepting the stakeholders’ request for a review petition on the Supreme Court judgment.

“We wanted a commitment on the petition today but the Board said it would discuss possibilities of a review plea only at a meeting scheduled on October 19. The decision is very unfortunate,” Varma said.

Members of the Pandalam family – former custodians of the temple – were joined by members of the 'tantri' (head priest) family and devotee groups including the Ayyappa Seva Sangham in the meeting. They have contended that that entry of women of menstruating age to the temple is against ritualistic traditions pertaining to the deity, a 'naishtika brahmachari' (celibate).

TDB president A Padmakumar said the Board had sought some time to arrive at a decision on the review plea. “The court is closed till October 22. There are already 24 review pleas for consideration. We told them that our advocates will be here for the meeting on October 19 and we could decide on the review plea or any legal procedures but they wanted a response today itself,” Padmakumar said.

Devotees conduct checks

At the Nilakkal base camp, a group of woman devotees checked vehicles to ensure that young women do not enter, even Pampa at the foothills. Tension prevailed in Nilakkal in the morning after woman devotees entered a KSRTC bus and asked a group of young women – reportedly journalism students – step out of the vehicle and return.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan reiterated on Tuesday that the government would not file a review petition against the apex court’s verdict. “The government will make all arrangements to make sure that the pilgrimage is peaceful for all. If anyone tries to disrupt their movement, the government will intervene,” the chief minister said.

With talks for consensus failing and the government reiterating plans to go ahead with implementation of the verdict, Nilakkal is set for more protests from Wednesday.

Even as the CPM-led state government and TDB maintain that a rush of woman pilgrims for the monthly pujas is unlikely, additional security measures, including woman police personnel at the base camp, are being planned. 

Read More 

CPI(M) launches explanatory meetings on Sabarimala 

Kerala to deploy woman cops at Sabarimala 

Conflicting rights: equality or religion?  

Sabarimala: Hindu outfits protest against Kerala govt

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As talks fail, will women enter Sabarimala today?

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