Two days after the Supreme Court deferred the verdict on the Sabarimala issue, the holy shrine Lord Ayappa in Sabarimala opens today for the annual Mandala Pooja festival.
As the Sabarimala shrine opens today for the 41-day annual pilgrimage season, the Kerala government has already clarified that the shrine is no place for activism and the women devotees hoping to enter the temple will not be given police protection. In a statement on Friday, Kerala Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran said that women seeking protection to visit the shrine will have to get a court order.
“This (Sabarimala shrine) is not a place for activism. This is not a place for activists like Trupti Desai to show their strength. We won’t take them in. Let them go get a court order,” he said.
The Communist-led Kerala government LDF government had earlier described the verdict of the top court as “very complex” and refused to provide any assistance to women wishing to enter the Sabarimala shrine.
Reacting to the Supreme Court verdict, controversial ‘activist’ Trupti Desai on Thursday had said that women should be allowed entry into the Sabarimala temple till a seven-judge Supreme Court bench delivers the verdict on the issue.
The controversial activist had also ‘vowed’ to offer prayers at the shrine when it opens for worship this year. Desai said she was planning to visit Sabarimala in the next few days and added that mere police protection by the Kerala government was insufficient to ensure that women could worship at the Ayyapa shrine in peace.
Welcoming the Supreme Court’s decision, Kanakadurga – one of the two women who were accompanied by Kerala police last year to desecrate the holy Sabarimala shrine, said that verdict was encouraging and wished to go again as she claimed that there was no stay on the September 28 verdict.
On January 2, 2019, two women Bindu and Kanakdurga in their 40s, were accompanied by Kerala police, had entered the Sabarimala shrine at 3.45 am causing massive anger amongst the Hindu devotees.
Meanwhile, the Sabarimala shrine will open on Saturday evening at 5 pm. The Kerala government has heightened up the security around the hill shrine in Pamba, Nilakal and Erumeli with the deployment of more than 10,000 cops. According to Pathanamthitta District Collector, 800 medical staff have been deployed 16 medical emergency centres have been established.
Pathanamthitta District Collector said that all basic arrangements are in place. Around 2,400 toilets and more than 250 water kiosks are ready.
On Wednesday, the Supreme Court bench led by CJI Ranjan Gogoi could not come to a conclusive decision in Sabarimala review petitions and referred the case to a larger bench by a 3:2 majority. The Supreme Court had reserved its judgment in the Sabarimala verdict after hearing the review petitions in September this year, challenging the court’s verdict of lifting the ban on women of menstrual age to enter the shrine of Sabarimala.
Hearing the review petitions challenging the 2018 verdict, the Supreme Court had said that the issue of women’s entry into the Sabarimala temple is not just limited to Sabarimala, but to the entry of women into Mosques as well.