Sabarimala protests updates: Shrine reopens tomorrow but board refuses to uphold 'tradition', to debate on review petition on 19 Oct

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Sabarimala protests updates: Shrine reopens tomorrow but board refuses to uphold 'tradition', to debate on review petition on 19 Oct
  • 16:31 (IST)

    WATCH: Women's group Samam holds silent march

    Input by DA Varghese/101Reporters

  • 16:12 (IST)

    Scenes from a street play staged by Samam Progressive Forum

    Input by DA Varghese/101Reporters

  • 15:57 (IST)

    Banners put up by women's collective 'Samam' in favor of women's entry into temple

    Images procured by DA Varghese/101Reporters

  • 15:48 (IST)

    Temple to open at 5pm tomorrow

    The temple opens on Wednesday at 5 pm for the customary monthly pujas.

    On Tuesday morning, hundreds of devotees, including a large number of women, protesting against the Supreme Court ruling, gathered at Nilakkal and started checking all vehicles bound to the temple town.

    "We are determined that come what may we will not allow a single lady in the age group 10 to 50 to reach anywhere near the temple. It's a matter of life and death and under no circumstances will we allow a breach of tradition," said a middle aged woman at Nilakal. The protesters are said to be mainly locals and others who have arrived from nearby areas.

    IANS

  • 15:22 (IST)

    Kerala MP says SC verdict opposed in Kerala by people of all faiths 

    Lok Sabha MP Anto Antony, who represents Pathanamthitta constituency under which the Sabarimala hill shrine comes said the apex court verdict permitting women of all age groups into the shrine have been opposed by all including the people from other faiths. 

    Antony was in Erumely, an important pilgrim centre linked to Lord Ayyappa faith, for inaugurating a dharna organised by women's outfits of Congress, Indian Union Muslim League and Kerala Congress (M).

    "You see only one thing in the streets--protests by men, women and children against the Supreme Court verdict. This is the time for them to arrange facilities for welcoming crores of devotees visiting the hill shrine from the world over. No such activities are done this time around. Instead, you see only the protests by our people--the hosts chanting Ayyappa mantra," he said.

  • 15:05 (IST)

     Shrine reopens tomorrow: What's next?

    With the all-stakeholders' meeting turning into a failed attempt to reach consensus, the face-off between women pilgrims and devotees is likely to continue. According to the Supreme Court order, the Kerala government is duty bound to implement it in letter and spirit. 

    However, the devotees' point of view is that awaiting the result on a review petition that is yet to be filed, they won't allow the 'celibacy' of their god to be disturbed in the meantime. The devotees who are against women's entry, have vowed that they will protest against women's entry and stop them at all costs, while several women activists and devotees have announced that they will attempt to enter the shrine. 

  • 14:48 (IST)

    Sabrimala Achara Samrakshan Samiti advices women to not violate tradition

    Anoj from the Sabrimala Achara Samrakshan Samiti, advices women to not violate tradition. He said that this is a namajapa yagna to conserve the customs of the Sabarimala temple from time immemorial. It's the 10th day of this yagna. "We are trying to make the women who reach here understand the importance of these customs and preserve those,as crores of believers stand by it and visit the shrine." Depending on the decision taken by the Devaswom board, our Yagna committee will also meet and decide on how to go about it, he added.

    Input by Pratyush Deep/101Reporters

  • 14:32 (IST)

    Kerala MP urges Centre to issue ordinance to get around SC order

    Lok Sabha MP Anto Antony, who represents Pathanamthitta constituency under which the Sabarimala hill shrine comes, Tuesday urged the Centre to issue an ordinance to get around the Supreme Court order allowing entry of women in all age groups in the holy temple. 

    Antony was in Erumely, an important pilgrim centre linked to Lord Ayyappa faith, for inaugurating a dharna organised by women's outfits of Congress, Indian Union Muslim League and Kerala Congress (M) in protest against the Supreme Court verdict.   

  • 14:27 (IST)

    Kerala govt assures  women pilgrim of protection, says SC judgment will be implemented 

    Chief  Minister Pinarayi vijayan asserted the government's resolve to implement the Supreme Court order. He said stern action will be taken against those preventing women devotees from going to Sabarimala temple. In a statement released by the CMO, Vijayan said that the government would post more women police pesonnel to provide protection to women who want to go to the temple.

  • 14:15 (IST)

    Pandalam royal family says board's assurance not satisfactory, can't waste time on it

    "We have urged Devaswom Board to file a review petition immediately. And until the petition is heard, status quo should be maintained. However, the boards says they can discuss on our demand for review petition only by 19, which is not satisfactory for us. Hence we thought not to waste more time on it," PG Sasikumar Varma, Pandalam palace managing committee president said. 

  • 14:09 (IST)

    Devaswom Board 'willing to work for consensus' but says can't guarantee status quo till SC hears matter

    The Devaswom Board said that the they were ready to file a review petition in the Supreme Court by 19 October as the Supreme Court will remain shut till the 22 October. However, the Pandalam royal family and the tantris (high priests) wanted it to be filed immediately. The board said it was ready to discuss the legal recourse on 19th October during the board's next meeting. But the royal family did not agree. 

  • 13:59 (IST)

    Women trainee journalist manhandled by protesters stopping women from entering Pamba

    Women trainee journalists were manhandled by the agitated protestors in a public bus after they insisted on heading on to Pamba for reporting on the developments. The protestors deliberately blocked the roads at Nilakkal to stop them, however, a minor scuffle broke out after the women insisted on proceeding.

    Input by Priyamvada Rana/101Reporters

    Input: AK Shukla/101Reporters

  • 13:47 (IST)

     Pandalam royal family, tantris walk out of all-stakeholders' meet after TDB rejects their demand to file immediate review petition

    The all-stakeholders' meeting failed to reach a consensus as Pandalam royal family and high priests of the temple walked out. The royal family and tantris demanded that the Travancore Devaswom Board files a review petition in the Supreme Court immediately. However, the board reportedly agreed to file a petition only after 19 October, following which, the royal family and the tantris walked out. 

  • 13:43 (IST)

    Lord Ayyappa devotee attempts suicide after one woman refuses to stop her pilgrimage

    A 51-year-old woman hailing from the Malayulladan community attempted suicide at Nilakkal around 1.15 pm, when one of the woman pilgrims refused to give up her quest to enter the shrine. The protester identified as Ratnamma tried to hang herself from a tree, however, the fellow protestors foiled the attempt. The woman said she was protesting attempt by someone to defy the customs and traditions of the temple.

  • 13:30 (IST)

    Situation tense in Nilakkal base camp

    Situation at Nulakkal base camp remains tense as protesters who are opposing the SC verdict are stopping buses and manhandling people who are going towards Pamba near Sabarimala. There were reports of minor skirmishes between protesters and local police officers as well after the police personnel tried to stop protesters from stopping traffic. 

    With inputs from Priyamvada Rana/ 101 Reporters

  • 12:59 (IST)

    Police not to allow any vehicle after Nilakkal, say reports

    According to CNN-News18, the local police has decided not to let any vehicles through Nilakkal and action will be taken against all those trying to stop pilgrims from reaching the shrine. 

  • 12:50 (IST)

    Woman devotee faces intimidation on social media for declaring plans to visit shrine 

    Amid raging protests over the Sabarimala issue, a Keralite woman, who announced her decision to offer prayers at the Lord Ayyappa shrine, complained that she was being slut-shamed and subjected to threats and abuses on social media. 

     
    Claiming to be a staunch devotee of Lord Ayyappa, 32-yr-old Reshma said she had already started the 41-day 'vrata' (penance) to trek to the forest temple during the annual pilgrimage season beginning on 17th. She also started wearing the 'bead chain' with the locket of Lord Ayyappa as part of the customary rituals before proceeding to Sabarimala.  
     
    Around 50 people marched to her house chanting Ayyappa bhajans to protest against her proposed pilgrimage. 

  • 12:45 (IST)

    Local tribal communities stop women from going to Sabarimala

    Amid the 30 odd groups protesting against the Supreme Court's verdict allowing women to enter the temple against tradition, are some of the local tribes. Mala Arayan, a community whose ancestors settled in the hills surrounding Sabarimala, has set up a vigil at 18 hills through which devotees enter the hill shrine. The community, which is considered as being a close aide of Lord Ayyappan, holds a few traditional rights in the rituals. 

    Members of another tribal community who live in the forest tracts at Sabarimala, Malampandaram, are already on an indefinite satyagraha. The leader of the tribe, Parasuram Thannickkal, said they will persuade the women not to enter the temple. He said that their protest will continue until an amicable solution to the issue is found.

  • 12:42 (IST)

    Women from Malayaran tribe stopping women from proceeding to Sabarimala 

    Women members of Malayaran tribal community are checking all vehicles passing through Nilakkal and forcing women below 50 years from going to Sabarimala. Group leader Sujatha said they were first requesting women not to break the temple custom. "We prevent them from proceeding if they don't heed our request. While most women stop at Nilakkal some are adamant fo go. We have detained two such wonen", Sujatha said

  • 12:37 (IST)

    Travancore Devaswom Board holds meet ahead of opening of temple gates tomorrow

    Kerala's Travancore Devaswom Board held a meeting of its officials a day ahead of Sabarimala temple opens up for devotees. The board which has said it will implement the Supreme Court's decision, discussed the arrangements needed, in case some women came to the shrine defying protests. 

     

    Sabarimala protests LIVE updates: Woman devotee faces backlash on social media, intimidation for declaring plans to visit shrine

  • 12:25 (IST)

    A mosque and a church enroute Sabarimala shrine are important stops for pilgrims

    The Vavar mosque in Erumeli is an important halting point for pilgrims. According to The Indian Expressthere are stories about Lord Ayyappa's friendship with Vavar, who was a warrior. There is also a shrine dedicated to Vavar close to the main temple complex at Sabarimala. 

    The report further said that a Christian connection also exists to the Sabarimala pilgrimage. The Arthunkal church dedicated to St Andrew and St Sebastian at Alappuzha is another popular halt for devotees on their way to Sabarimala. 

  • 12:18 (IST)

    Pilgrims en route to the base camp of the shrine

    Devotees continue to reach the Sabarimala temple trek base camp even as vehicles are being stopped mid-way to check for plying women.

  • 12:17 (IST)

    Sabarimala Achara Aamrakshana Samithi protests against SC order at Nilakkal 

  • 12:11 (IST)

    Sabarimala temple has specific visiting days, but is open for people from other religions

    Unlike other Hindu temples in the state, the Sabarimala temple is not open all-year-round. Devotees are only allowed to visit the shrine and offer prayers for the first five days of every month, according to the Malayalam calendar, and during the annual ‘mandalam’ and ‘makaravilakku’ festivals between mid-November to mid-January. However, the temple which is dedicated to Hindu deity, Lord Ayyappa, is open to people of all religions.

  • 12:02 (IST)

    Cars being stopped on way to the shrine, vehicles checked for women devotees  

    Protestors are checking each car going towards the Sabarimala shrine for the presence of any women devotees in them, CNN News18 reported. Meanwhile, some women have been stopped at the Nilakkal base camp of the Ayyappa temple.

  • 11:53 (IST)

    Pinarayi Vijayan says no one will be allowed to take law in hand

    As the protests for stalling the implementation of the Supreme Court order on Sabarimala, allowing women of all ages to enter the Ayyappa temple, continue to grow, Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Tuesday said that all the facilities will be provided to women who will visit the temple from 17 October onwards and that no one will be allowed to take the law in their hands. 

  • 11:40 (IST)

    Women devotees, journalists stopped before reaching Pamba 

    Women devotees protesting against the SC verdict are stopping vehicles at Nilakkal, the Sabarimala base camp, are persuading women not to proceed to Sabarimala. Those who are not listening to them are not being allowed to continue. Those who were stopped by the protestors included some women media persons. 

  • 11:34 (IST)

    Women headed to shrine told to alight public buses

    Reports said that self-proclaimed vigilante groups were checking private vehicles and public buses enroute the Pamba base camp to see if women between the age of 10 and 50 were travelling to Sabarimala. CNN-News18 showed visuals where protesters can be seen stopping vehicles and asking women to step out from the vehicles.

  • 11:26 (IST)

    Kerala govt won't file review petition, safety of women will be ensured, says Pinarayi Vijayan 

    Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan said that the state government is not going to file a review petition against the Supreme Court verdict. He said that the state was committed to implementing the Supreme Court order and that adequate security arrangements will be made. 

  • 11:20 (IST)

    Women's rights groups prepare to hold protest seeking implementation of SC verdict

    A banner put up by Samam, a women's collective, to discuss and conduct activities on gender equality. This is ahead of its first meeting at Manaveeyam Veedhi in Thiruvananthapuram. Women from different walks of life are expected to take part in this. The banner says, "From inequality to equality, from traditional rituals to fundamental rights."

    Input by DA Varghese/101Reporters

  • 11:17 (IST)

    Sabarimala chief priest warns of violence if women enter temple

    Kandararu Maheshwararu Tantri, chief priest of Sabarimala temple has warned of violence if women between the ages of 10 and 50 try to enter the Sabarimala shrine. According to The Times of India, he said, "At no time before, has Kerala united like this. This is to us what Jalikattu was to Tamil Nadu. See the protests that are unfolding in the streets. Lakhs of people, most of them women, are up in arms against the order. In fact several Hindu outfits have rallied in the vicinity. This anger could easily escalate into violence if a few egotistic women try to enter Sabarimala." 

  • 11:08 (IST)

    Travancore Devaswom Board meeting with all stakeholder begins

    The Travancore Devaswom Board, which runs the hill-shrine, will meet the patrons, including the Tantri (head priest) family, Pandalam royals and Ayyappa Seva Sangam later in the day to discuss the preparations ahead of the three-month-long annual Mandalam-Makaravilakku pilgrim season starting 17 November.

  • 10:54 (IST)

    Devotees start arriving in Pamba as temple set to open tomorrow 

  • 10:48 (IST)

    Women's right groups launch counter-protest in Kerala to demand implementation of SC verdict

    With the first phase of protests by the Lord Ayyappa devotees against the SC verdict permitting women of all ages at Sabarimala ending today, progressive women's groups have started coming in open to assert their right. While the women's rights protection committee will hold a convention at Ernakulam in the evening demanding implementation of the SC verdict, another progressive women's forum called 'Samam' has come forward to support the women who like to go to Sabarimala. It will be holding a meeting at state capital today to urge women to make use of the SC verdict.

  • 10:45 (IST)

    Devaswom Board likely to seek more time from SC as stakeholders resist immediate implementation of verdict

    With the Sabarimala temple due to reopen for the first time tomorrow since Supreme Court allowed women’s entry, the Travancore Devaswom Board may seek more time from the Supreme Court to implement its order. As most of the stakeholders are agitated and protesting against the order, the temple board may cite poor infrastructure to seek more time from court and use it to try and establish consensus among groups.

  • 10:38 (IST)

    Pandalam Royal family agrees to attend meeting of all stakeholders in Kerala

    Pandalam royal family and three tantris have said they will attend the meet. "We stick to our decision to maintain the status quo at the temple. It is for the TDB to find a solution," said Pandalam royal family member Sasikumar Verma.

    Earlier both, royal family and tantris, had turned down an invitation of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan for talks. “The TDB has already made it clear that it will implement the Supreme Court verdict. If the proposed meeting is aimed at discussing how to implement the verdict, there is no point in attending it..." Pandalam Palace Managing Committee president PG Sasikumar Varma had said. 

  • 10:28 (IST)

    Matter complicated by local women's protest, cannot overrule local custom's completely, says Desh Ratan Nigam

    Desh Ratan Nigam, an RSS supporter and thinker, said that the matter was far more complicated than a simple case of constitutional rights because the local women and believers of that particular sect are willingly saying they do not want the right to worship in the Sabarimala temple as it is against their customs. He said that more time should have been bought by the govenrment instead of forcing emotionally charged supporters into following the Supreme Court verdict. 

  • 10:13 (IST)

    Women police officers don’t want to be posted at Sabarimala and offend Ayyappa, says report

    According to a report in The Print, several women police officers in Kerala have apparently expressed reservations against being posted at the Sabarimala shrine to ensure implementation of Supreme Court verdict which allowed women's entry into the shrine. 

    The report suggested that the police personnel were vary of offending the celibate deity. "This puts the state police in a quandary, said a local police officer who did not want to be named. If male police officers are deployed near the steps leading to the sanctum, women pilgrims may object," the report said. 

  • 09:56 (IST)

    BJP slams Kerala govt over women's entry to shrine, claims Left-front conspiring to destroy hillock shrine

    The state unit of BJP has been protesting against the implementation of the Supreme Court verdict allowing women of all age groups entry into the Sabarimala shrine. The party has also slammed the state government for refusing to file a review petition on the court's ruling. 

    The BJP, which took out a massive rally against women's proposed entry to shrine on Monday, has alleged that the government is "conspiring" to destroy the hillock shrine. Party state president PS Sreedharan Pillai has warned of a bigger agitation if the government failed to resolve the issue in the next 24 hours.

    "We will meet each villager in Kerala and chalk out a massive agitation plan to protect the Sabarimala Temple, its centuries-old traditions and the sentiments of Lord Ayyappa devotees," Mr Pillai said.

  • 09:46 (IST)

    Protesting groups send suicide squad to stop women from entering Kerala shrine

    The Shiv Sena's Kerala unit has vowed to send a group of activists, who will commit suicide if women who are barred from entering the temple as per its customs attempt to enter the temple. The party will also deploy hundreds of its activists at Nilakkal and Pampa to block women from the menstruating age group. 

    “We will not allow them to cross Pampa. They would be able to trek on the hill only by stepping over the dead bodies of our workers. Be it Trupti Desai or anyone else, our workers won't let anybody break customs,” Shiv Sena leader Peringamala Aji said.

  • 09:38 (IST)

    Devotees eye TDB's bid to establish consensus on women's entry in shrine

    Devotees are keenly awaiting the outcome of the talks Travsncore Devaswom Board will be having with stakeholders in Sabarimala to build a consensus over the Supreme Court verdict permitting women of all ages to enter the Lord Ayyappa temple today.

    Various devotee organisation expect the board to ease the tension building up at the hill shrine by seeking time to implement the Apex Court order. The tantri (high priest), the Pandalam royal family and two devotee organisations, who will be attending the meeting, are expected to raise this demand at the meeting to temporarily resolve the issue. If the TDB toe the government line of implementing the verdict immediately it would lead to a shodown when the Sabarimala shrine for monthly poojas on Thursday, the first time since the SC lifted the bar on entry of women of the age group of 10' to 50 ,from entering the temple.

  • 09:34 (IST)

    Women devotees not allowed beyond Kerala shrine's base camp at Nilakkal, say reports

    Women, devotees and journalists alike, were being stopped at Nilakkal from proceeding towards the Sabarimala shrine of Lord Ayyappa. CNN-News18, reported that the protesters have started stopping cars heading towards the traditional trekking routes that lead to Sabarimala temple to check if any women are headed towards the temple.  

  • 09:32 (IST)

    Stakeholders show tepid response to temple board's call for meet 

    Barring one organisation, the others have not responded to the invitation extended by TDB so far. The Tantri family and the Pandalam royal family, which is the custodian of the temple, have expressed apprehensions over the talks, as the TDB is toeing the government line. Both said that they will take a decision after consulting all concerned.

    "The TDB has already made it clear that it will implement the Supreme Court verdict. If the proposed meeting is aimed at discussing how to implement the verdict, there is no point in attending it. We will consult the Tantris and take a decision," said Pandalam Palace Managing Committee president PG Sasikumar Varma.

    The All India Ayyappa Seva Sangham, an organisation of the devotees, said it will attend the meeting but demand postponement of the implementation of the verdict.

  • 09:28 (IST)

    Meanwhile... Travancore Devaswom Board tries to find a middle path

    Travancore Devaswom Board, a temple body which manages the Lord Ayyappa shrine has invited various stakeholders for a meeting to discuss 'various aspects', including preparations for the annual pilgrimage season, beginning next month. 

    TDB president A Padmakumar said the meeting is scheduled to be held on October 16 at its headquarters in Thiruvananthapuram. Besides the Tazhamon tantri family and the Pandalam royals,various stakeholders of the Sabarimala shrine,including Ayyappa Seva Sangam, Ayyappa Seva Samajam, tantri mahamandalam and Yoga Kshema Sabah would be invited for the talks, he said.

    PTI
      

  • 09:25 (IST)

    Women rights' activists remain defiant, vow to visit shrine despite protests 

    Amidst strong sentiments against the Supreme Court's verdict allowing women in the 10 to 50 age group into the Sabarimala Temple, gender equality activist Trupti Desai said on Saturday that she was still determined to visit it. 

    Meanwhile, Reshma Nishanth, a 32-year-old native of Kannur district, recently put a Facebook post stating that she would visit the shrine, despite facing backlash from a group of Lord Ayyappa devotees.

     
    Claiming to be a staunch devotee of Lord Ayyappa, Reshma said she had already started the 41-day 'vrata' (penance) to trek to the forest temple during the annual pilgrimage season beginning on November 17. She also started wearing the 'bead chain' with the locket of Lord Ayyappa as part of the customary rituals before proceeding to Sabarimala. However, the woman faced severe backlash and trolling on social media. 

  • 09:09 (IST)

    Sabarimala temple body may seek time from Supreme Court to implement order

    With the Sabarimala temple due to reopen for the first time tomorrow since Supreme Court allowed women’s entry, the Travancore Devaswom Board may seek more time from the Supreme Court to implement its order.

    According to a report in Hindustan Times, the temple board sources say that the TDB is likely to propose a plan to seek more time to implement the verdict since the row appeared to be getting out of hand.

  • 09:08 (IST)

    Who are the groups protesting against SC verdict?

    Activists from more than 30 organisations will converge at Nilakkal, the base camp of Sabarimala hill shrine, and Pampa, the base of the hill from where the devotees trek to the temple, to resist the entry of the women between the ages of 10 and 50. Some of these are: 

    • Shiv Sena - The party's Kerala unit has vowed to prevent women from entering the hill shrine. They have sent a suicide squad persuade women against entering. 
    • Ayyappa Dharma Sena, - The Ayyappa Dharma Sena, which is headed by Rahul Easwar, grandson of late high priest Kandararu Maheswararu will form a human shield to prevent women of the menstruating age group from entering the temple. They plan to form a human shield to prevent women's entry
    • Tribal communities - Mala Arayan, a tribal group whose ancestors settled in the hills surrounding Sabarimala, will set up a vigil at 18 hills through which devotees enter the hill shrine. Members of another tribal community who live in the forest tracts at Sabarimala, Malampandaram, are already on an indefinite satyagraha. 

  • 09:01 (IST)

    Why are groups protesting against SC verdict and women’s entry?

    The Sabarimala Temple, one of the several Lord Ayyappa temples in Kerala, is specifically dedicated to the celibate form of the deity. Historically, women between the ages of 10 to 50 (the typical duration of time when a woman menstruates) were not allowed to enter this particular temple. However, women are free to worship the shrine in most other temples of the deity.

    However, this changed on 28 September, when a five-judge Constitution bench, headed by then Chief Justice Dipak Misra, lifted the ban on the entry of women of menstrual age into the shrine, and held that such a practice was violative of their right to worship.

  • 08:59 (IST)

    Lord Ayyappa devotees, Hindu groups resist entry of women to Sabaraimala Shrine

    Tension is mounting at Sabarimala with devotee bodies, Hindu organisations and various political outfits gearing up for a show of strength against the Communist-led government’s move to implement the Supreme Court verdict permitting women of all ages to enter the Lord Ayyappa temple when it opens for the five-day monthly pooja on 17 October.

    Activists from more than 30 organisations will converge at Nilakkal, the base camp of Sabarimala hill shrine, and Pampa, the base of the hill from where the devotees trek to the temple, to resist the entry of the women between the ages of 10 and 50.

Sabarimala protests Latest updates: "We have urged Devaswom Board to file a review petition immediately. And until the petition is heard, status quo should be maintained. However, the boards says they can discuss on our demand for review petition only by 19, which is not satisfactory for us. Hence we thought not to waste more time on it," PG Sasikumar Varma, Pandalam palace managing committee president said.

The all-stakeholders' meeting failed to reach a consensus as Pandalam royal family and high priests of the temple walked out. The royal family and tantris were demanding that the Travancore Devaswom Board files a review petition in the Supreme Court immediately, however, the board refused to accept that demand. The board reportedly agreed to file a petition after 19 November, following which, the royal family and the tantris walked out.

Kerala Deputy General of Police chaired a security meet a day ahead of the Sabarimala temple opens for devotees. This comes in the wake of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan's statement that the state government will enforce law and order and ensure the Supreme Court order is implemented.

The base camp of Sabarimala shrine at Nalakkal. Firstpost/ TK Devasia

The base camp of Sabarimala shrine at Nalakkal. Firstpost/ TK Devasia

Amid raging protests over the Sabarimala issue, a Keralite woman, who announced her decision to offer prayers at the Lord Ayyappa shrine, complained that she was being slut-shamed and subjected to threats and abuses on social media.

Devotees continue to reach the Sabarimala temple trek base camp even as vehicles are being stopped mid-way to check for plying women.

As the protests for stalling the implementation of the Supreme Court order on Sabarimala, allowing women of all ages to enter the Ayyappa temple, continue to grow, Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Tuesday said that all the facilities will be provided to women who will visit the temple from 17 October onwards and that no one will be allowed to take the law in their hands.

Women devotees protesting against the SC verdict are stopping vehicles at Nilakkal, the Sabarimala base camp, are persuading women not to proceed to Sabarimala. Those who are not listening to them are not being allowed to continue. Those who were stopped by the protestors included some women media persons.

The meeting between all stakeholders in the Sabarimala temple face-off has started in Thiruvananthapuram. The meeting called by the Travancore Devaswom Board is being held to build consensus on Supreme Court verdict allowing women in the sanctum sanctorum of the shrine. The attendees include three tantris (high priest), board officials, and members of Pandalam royal family.

With the Sabarimala temple due to reopen for the first time tomorrow since Supreme Court allowed women’s entry, the Travancore Devaswom Board may seek more time from the Supreme Court to implement its order. As most of the stakeholders are agitated and protesting against the order, the temple board may cite poor infrastructure to seek more time from court and use it to try and establish consensus among groups.

Grandson of former high priest of Sabarimala Shrine, Rahul Easwar said that the Lord Ayyappa devotees were forced to take the route of Gandhian protests. Citing the example of a massive movement in Tamil Nadu, against the Supreme Court verdict banning the festival of Jallikattu, Easwar said we will also launch peaceful agitation to demand an ordinance to undo the Supreme Court's ruling that threatens our religious beliefs.

The Shiv Sena's Kerala unit has vowed to send a group of activists, who will commit suicide if women who are barred from entering the temple as per its customs attempt to enter the temple. The party will also deploy hundreds of its activists at Nilackkal and Pampa to block women from the menstruating age group.

Women, devotees and journalists alike, were being stopped at Nilakkal from proceeding towards the Sabarimala shrine of Lord Ayyappa. CNN-News18, reported that the protesters have started stopping cars heading towards the traditional trekking routes that lead to Sabarimala temple to check if any women are headed towards the temple.

Amid ongoing protests by Lord Ayyappa devotees over the Supreme Court judgment allowing women to enter the Sabarimala temple, Kerala Varma Raja, head of Pandalam royal family said that the apex court verdict was against the sentiments of devotees. He said that the central government should make necessary amendments to protect the rights of the believers.

The Pandalam royal family for ages has been closely interlinked with the lore of Lord Ayyappa, the presiding deity at Sabarimala. During the annual mandalam festival at the temple between November-January, the male head of the family has privileges to perform certain ceremonies.

"Pandalam royal family follows the rights and rituals of Sabarimala temple. As far as the verdict is concerned, it is against the devotees. We have moved the Supreme Court against this. We will take appropriate step after analysing the outcome of the petition," Raja told media in a press meet.

Raja was here to take part in the protest march organised by Ayyappa Dharma Protection Committee against the 28 September verdict of the five-judge constitution bench, which had in its 4:1 verdict lifted the ban on the entry of women of menstrual age into the shrine.

The Constitution bench had said that banning the entry of women into the shrine is gender discrimination and that the practice violates rights of Hindu women.

The royal family head said the issue was not political and he was not siding with any political party. He urged that the Centre to make necessary amendments in the law against the apex court decision.

"This is not a political issue. Not siding with any political party. It's a custom, tradition followed by thousands of believers. Central government should make necessary amendments in law with regard to this matter," he said.

Earlier in the day, while inaugurating the protest march at Jantar Mantar, he asked the Kerala Chief Minister to consider the sentiments of the believers.

"Chief Minister must consider the sentiments of the believers. The President of India and the Centre must interfere in the matter," he urged.

The BJP-led NDA had organised the protest against the LDF government's decision not to file a review petition against the Supreme Court's verdict allowing women of all ages to enter the Sabarimala Temple by lifting the ban on those between 10-50 years.

The state has been rocked by protests by Congress, BJP and Hindu outfits against the government's move to implement the apex court order.

Meanwhile in Kerala, amid continuing protests on the Sabarimala issue, a temple body which manages the Lord Ayyappa shrine Sunday invited various stakeholders for a meeting to discuss 'various aspects', including preparations for the annual pilgrimage season, beginning next month.

As Various Hindu outfits and Lord Ayyappa devotees have been staging protests over the last few days all over Kerala against implementation of the Supreme Court order, the call for talks is considered an attempt for a consensus.

The three-month-long annual 'Mandalam-Makaravilakku' pilgrimage season of the Sabarimala Temple will begin on 17 November.


Updated Date: Oct 16, 2018 16:37 PM

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