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Review petition filed in Supreme Court against verdict allowing women’s entry in Sabarimala

The Pandalam royal family, the Nair Service Society, the Tanthri or the chief priest of the Sabarimala temple and National Ayyappa Devotees Association have reportedly moved to the Supreme court challenging its September 28 verdict lifting the centuries-old ban on women of menstruating age from entering the temple.

Shaylaja Vijayan, the president of the National Ayyappa Devotees Association has stated that the SC order has affected the fundamental rights of millions of devotees across the country.

Scion of the erstwhile Pandalam Royal family, who are considered the family of Lord Ayyappa, Sasikumar Verma has stated that they are still hopeful that the apex court will review its verdict. The Tanthris of the shrine have stated that there was no point in holding talks with the Kerala government as they have already declared that they will enforce the order.

The Supreme Court Bench, by a 4-1 majority verdict, had decided that women of all ages should be allowed in the Kerala temple. Justice Indu Malhotra, the sole dissenting voice on the bench, said that the shrine and the deity are protected by Article 25 of the constitution and hence, the court should not interfere unless there is an aggrieved person from that religion or section. The verdict had stirred nationwide protests organized by Lord Ayyapa devotees who called it a ‘dilution of the age-old traditions’. Protests were held in different parts of Kerala like Kottayam, Ernakulam, Alappuzha, Kannur, Thiruvananthapuram and Thrissur with BJP declaring hartal in Pathanamthitta district, where the temple is situated.

The Communist Party of India (Marxist)-led Kerala government, which has accepted the top court’s verdict and is making safety arrangements for women devotees, had reiterated its stand to go ahead with the order after the ‘tantris’ (chief priests) backed out of the talks.

Amidst the mounting protests by the devotees of Lord Ayyappa, demanding the retaining of the age-old tradition, rituals and faith of the hill shrine in various parts of the state, the Kerala government had earlier called for talks which were boycotted by the priests of the temple. The Sabarimala temple’s Tantri (Chief Priest) had yesterday refused to attend the conciliation meeting, which was to be held today, called by the Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan today, to discuss the Supreme Court verdict.

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