Sabarimala temple opens amid unprecedented security 

File photo. Photograph:( Reuters )

PTI New Delhi, Delhi, India Nov 16, 2018, 05.40 PM (IST)

Amid high security, the Sabarimala temple re-opened on Friday evening for the two-month long pilgrim season, even as Ayyappa devotees are firm against permitting entry of menstrual age women into the shrine.

There is a heavy deployment of police personnel in and around Sabarimala temple as it opened at 5 pm this evening for the "Mandala Makkaravillakku" puja in the backdrop of protests witnessed during the previous two occasions when the shrine opened.

IGP Vijay Saleem has asked police personnel to follow strict dress code at Sabarimala, while exemption has been given to cops at the holy 18 steps.
Over 15,000 personnel, including women police personnel and 860 women civil police officers, would be deployed during the season, when lakhs of devotees from different parts of the country are expected to throng the shrine.

Prohibitory orders under Section 144 CrPC banning assembly of four or more people is also in force in and around Sabarimala from midnight Thursday for a week.

Meanwhile, heavy rains are lashing Sabarimala and nearby areas and devotees have not yet been allowed to leave for Pamba from here, a key base camp enroute to the temple.

Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) buses will transport the pilgrims to Pamba, about 20 km from here, and no private vehicles will be allowed.

This is the third time the shrine is opening since the apex court lifted the age-old ban on entry of women in 10-50 age group, though no girl or woman pilgrim in the age group could offer prayers so far following stiff resistance by devotees and activists, opposing any change in the temple traditions.

As consensus eluded a crucial all-party meeting called by Chief Minister, Pinarayi Vijayan Thursday to resolve the issue, Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) which manages the shrine, is meeting legal experts today on the possibility of filing a petition in the apex court seeking time to implement the September 28 order.

Story highlights

There is a heavy deployment of police personnel in and around Sabarimala temple as it opened at 5 pm this evening for the "Mandala Makkaravillakku" puja