As the Sabarimala Temple also known as Lord Ayyappa temple, opened for the two-month long pilgrim season on Saturday evening, with the Kerala government’s claim of making all preparations to make it a hassle free pilgrimage, a 12-year-old girl from Puducherry, who had come for darshan to Lord Ayyappa temple along with her father, was not allowed to proceed to the shrine from Pamba on Tuesday morning.
The age of the girl, with “irrumudikettu” (offerings to Lord Ayyappa) had been shown as 10 in the virutal queue booking.
Women police examined the girl’s aadhar card and found that she was 12 years old and refused to allow her to proceed further from Pamba to the shrine complex, police said.
The girl’s father and rest of the family proceeded to the temple.
Supporting the shrine’s tradition, a nine-year-old Keralite girl, who came to the temple complex from Karnataka on Monday, had a placard around her neck inscribed with the words “Ready to wait. Will visit the shrine after attaining 50 years.”
Hailing from Thrissur, Hridyakrishnan said she had visited the shrine thrice and would have darshan of Lord Ayyappa only after she reaches 50.
Her father, Harikrishnan had said devotees are those who protect traditions and beliefs.
While two women in the barred age group of 10-50 years had been stopped by police from visiting the hill shrine, on Saturday, when the temple opened, at least 10 young women from Andhra Pradesh had been sent back.
The Pamba base camp is at the foothills of Sabarimala, about 5 km from the shrine.
The Lord Ayyappa temple had opened on November 16 evening for the two month long Mandala-Makaravillakku pilgrimage season.
The temple resembled a fortress a year ago. The Supreme Court on Thursday did not stay its September 28, 2018 order allowing entry of women of all age groups into the Sabarimala temple. The apex court, however, referred to a larger bench, the review petitions against the verdict allowing entry of women into Kerala’s Lord Ayappa Temple.
The top court, by a majority of 3:2, referred the review petitions to a larger 7-judge Constitution bench. Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman and Justice DY Chandrachud gave a dissenting judgement.
The state and temple precincts had witnessed frenzied protests by right outfits and BJP workers last year after the LDF government had decided to implement the Supreme court’s verdict of September 28, 2018 allowing women of all age groups to offer prayers at the shrine.
This time, the Kerala government has however, made its position clear that they will not make any effort to see that women were taken to the temple to pray.
Last year, the police provided security to women who faced stiff resistance from the activists of the right-wing forces who chased them away. A group of women rights activists and journalists of around a dozen women, in the 10-50 years age group tried to climb the sacred hills, but the attempt was unsuccessful as frenzied devotees of Lord Ayyappa heckled and hassled them and forced them to retreat.
However, defying protesters, two women, in their 40s, Bindu Ammini and Kanakadurga, had entered the Ayyappa temple in January this year and offered prayers, making a historic change.
This time, over 10,000 police personnel would be posted in phases in and around the Lord Ayyappa temple for security purposes.
Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran has made it clear that Sabarimala was not a place for activists to display their activism and said the government would not encourage such women who want to visit the shrine for publicity.
The temple, dedicated to Lord Ayyappa is the most famous and prominent among all the Sastha temples in Kerala, is situated on a hilltop about 4000 feet above sea level in Sabarimala.
(With inputs from PTI)