Sabarimala temple closes as annual pilgrimage season comes to an end

Sabarimala/Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala witnessed a slew of unprecedented protests over the entry of women of menstruating age to Sabarimala. On Sunday, the Ayyappa temple was closed after the over two-month-long annual pilgrimage season at 6.15 am after darshan by P Raghava Varma Raja of the Pandalam royal family.

According to sources, the BJP ended its 49-day-long relay hunger strike in front of the state Secretariat in Thiruvananthapuram. On Sunday, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan lashed out at the Sangh Parivar and said its Sabarimala stir was a complete failure, and that the stir was led by advocates of casteism. While BJP state president P S Sreedharan Pillai claimed it was aimed at protecting the traditional faith of devotees. He said they had garnered mass support.

Meanwhile, the Pandalam royal family member, Sashikumar Varma said they were ready for talks with the government to settle the issue smoothly.

The Sabarimala Karma Samiti, which spearheaded the agitations against the entry of young women into the shrine, organised a mass gathering of devotees, spiritual and cultural leaders in the state capital Sunday evening.

Mata Amritananda Mayi, speaking to the gathering said that it was unfortunate that such incidents took place at Sabarimala. She said traditions of temples should be protected and that changes in the society were a necessity.

The annual pilgrimage season witnessed widespread protests from devotees and right-wing groups over the CPI(M)-led LDF government’s decision to implement the September 28 Supreme Court verdict allowing women of all ages to enter the shrine.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a BJP convention at Kollam termed the Kerala government’s decision as a shameful act. During the season, over two dozen women devotees. However, on 2 January, Kanakadurga (44) and Bindhu (42) trekked the hill escorted by police and offered prayers, and set off widespread violence across the state. Later, a Sri Lankan woman also visited the shrine.

Kerala witnessed unprecedented violence during a hartal called against the entry of women into the temple, with houses of both CPI(M) and BJP leaders being attacked. 

According to sources, the Lord Ayyappa temple would be reopened on 13 February for the monthly poojas in the Malayalam month, Kumbham.

NT Bureau