Sabarimala, Nov 17
Devotees Have Darshan. The Sabarimala temple opens amid tight security.
The Sabarimala temple opened Friday amid tight security for the first two-month-long annual pilgrim season for the third time, ever since the SC Sept 28 judgment, in the presence of head priest Kandararu Rajeevaru. This marked the beginning of the first annual pilgrim season. Lakhs of devotees from neighboring states are expected to visit Sabarimala over two months. The state government has announced tight police security and stringent conditions for visiting devotees.
However, no girl or woman pilgrim in the 10-50 age group could offer prayers so far. The 41-day mandalam festival will conclude on December 27 after Mandala pooja, when the shrine will close after the ‘Athazhapuja’ in the evening. It would reopen for the Makaravilakku festival on December 30.
Hindu Groups save the tradition.
Opposition parties and Hindu groups prepare to oppose the entry of women of all age into the hill shrine. No young woman turned up at the base stations of Pamba and Nilakkal though around 700 women have registered their names with police. Non-entry of women of 10-50 years of age has been a tradition being followed for centuries, but was hitherto not backed by any law or legislative procedures. Everybody in Kerala is well aware of it. The traditions are firm and have existed for centuries. But, unfortunately, certain unscrupulous elements propagated all sorts of half-truths about Sabarimala and made the issue a controversy.
Even the supreme court / high court failed to take stock of the situation, leaving the devotees wondering what is the sense for the top court agreeing to hear over 49 review petitions on 22 Jan 2019- two days after the current pilgrim season gets over.
Trupti Desai Returned.
Earlier, tension had gripped the Kochi International Airport 157 km away, where a stand-off ensued between protesters and Bhumata Brigade leader Trupti Desai. The activist had vowed to enter the Lord Ayappa shrine. She was prevented from leaving the airport in a siege. Cab drivers, hotels refused to be hospitable to Ms Desai.
With little options left, without shouting slogans at airport, chanting prayers, the devotees displayed a total non violent movement. By 9:30 pm, after 14 hours, Desai announced that she was returning to Pune, citing “law and order” problems. In Mumbai, too, she was greeted with protests on arrival.
Arrests and Strikes
Meanwhile, the Kerala government asserted that it was duty bound to implement the apex court order.
The Hindu Aikya Vedi President K P Sasikala Teacher was arrested from Marakkuttam, a few kilometres away from Sannidanam, the abode of Lord Ayyapa at midnight on Friday.
The Sabarimala Karma Samithi and the Hindu Aikya Vedi jointly called for a dawn-to-dusk hartal across Kerala in protest against the arrest of several leaders of Hindu organizations who were conducting agitations against the implementation of September 28 Supreme Court Verdict allowing women between 10 and 50 years into Ayyappa temple.
BJP-led National Democratic Front (NDA) had also extended their support to the hartal. Essential services like milk, newspapers, hospitals and medical shops have been exempted from the hartal.