Will women make it to Sabarimala for Thulam pooja?

Pathanamthitta: With just hours left for the opening of Sabarimala Temple for Thulam pooja, the first time after the Supreme Court’s 28 September landmark verdict that lifted the ban on entry of women aged between 10-50 years into the temple, suspense prevails as to whether they will be allowed or not due to a section of devotees and NDA functionaries protesting against their entry tomorrow.

Amidst this, the Travancore Devaswom Board, which manages the temple, conducted a meeting with those involved in performing rituals at the shrine. It also discussed various aspects including preparations for the annual pilgrimage season which begins next month.

But, though the royal family of Pandalam along with the family of the thantri (priest) expressed willingness to attend the meeting by accepting the apex court’s order, they slightly changed their stand today. Speaking to reporters, Pandalam royalt said, “If women are permitted inside Sabarimala Temple, it will face hygiene issues. It is impossible for women to come to temple post a 41-day fast.”

Also, protesters, including a large number of women and children, marched to the Secretariat in Thiruvananthapuram today, chanting mantras and holding garlanded pictures of the deity. The protesters, some clad in black and many others carrying garlanded pictures of the eternally celibate deity, had begun the Save Sabrimala March from Pandalam in Pathanamthitta district to Thiruvananthapuram, a distance of around 90 km, 10 October.

The mammoth march, which began last week from Pandalam, doesn’t seem to be deterred even as the arrangements are going on in full swing at the temple premises for women’s entry.

On 28 September, the apex court allowed women of all ages to enter the Sabarimala Temple, saying that no physiological and biological factor can be given legitimacy if it doesn’t pass the test of conditionality. Although many, including the Pinarayi Vijayan-led Kerala government, have welcomed the decision, a section of followers has been staging protest across the country opposing the judgement.

DEADLINE SET

The BJP has set a 24-hour deadline for the Kerala government to resolve the Sabarimala temple row or be prepared to face the consequences. Chanting mantras and waving party flags, thousands of BJP workers Monday trooped into the Kerala capital demanding that the Left Front government file a review petition against the Supreme Court verdict allowing female devotees of menstrual age to offer prayers at the shrine.

With the contentious issue fast acquiring political overtones, BJP workers and sympathisers, including a large number of women, laid a virtual siege to the State Secretariat in a massive show of strength against the government which has said it would enforce the apex court’s order and not go for a review.

The BJP, a marginal player in Kerala politics, has been extremely critical of the Communist government’s decision against seeking a review of the Supreme Court order, while the Congress, which earlier welcomed it, changed tack and said it was with the Ayyappa devotees.

ARRANGEMENTS ARE ON
In view of Thulam pooja when women will be participating for the first time in large numbers, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan today assured full protection for women devotees. The police will be stationed on the premises on all five days when devotees are allowed. We will not allow any one to take the law into their own hands. The government will ensure facilities for devotees going to Sabarimala Temple and offering prayers. The government will not file a review petition. We’ve said in court that we’ll implement the order, he said.

The Chief Minister also said the government will not allow any violence in the name of Sabarimala. ‘The government will not stop to check cars or stop people and it will ensure the safety and security of all devotees,’ he added.

 

 

NT Bureau