Kerala: Sabarimala temple to reopen today, tight security in place

ANI Kerala Nov 16, 2019, 10.54 AM(IST)

File photo of Kerala's Sabarimala temple. Photograph:( ANI )

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The state government will not provide protection to any woman visiting the temple

The Sabarimala Temple will open today for the Mandala Puja amid tight security arrangements in Kerala's Pathanamthitta district.

Kerala Devaswom Board Minister K Surendran had on Friday said that the state government will not provide protection to any woman visiting the temple and those who need protection should get an order from the Supreme Court.

Pathanamthitta District Collector, PB Nooh said that all basic necessities such as toilets, water kiosks and medical emergency centres are in place for the pilgrims.

"All basic arrangements are in place. We have deployed over 800 medical staff and established 16 medical emergency centres. Around 2,400 toilets and more than 250 water kiosks are ready. We have more than 1,000 sanitation workers deployed to ensure a clean atmosphere," he told reporters here.

Women rights activist Trupti Desai, who has been a vehement critic of the restriction on the entry of women of a certain age group in the temple, had said that she will be visiting the shrine after November 20 regardless of whether or not she is provided security cover by the state government.

The opening of the shrine comes days after a five-judge bench of the Supreme Court had referred a clutch of petitions seeking review of its order which paved the way for the entry of women into Sabarimala temple in Kerala to a larger seven-judge bench by a majority 3:2 ruling.

The top court also observed that the right to worship by an individual cannot outweigh the rights of a religious group.

While Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justices A M Khanwilkar and Indu Malhotra sent the review petitions to a larger bench, Justices Nariman and Chandrachud authored a dissenting judgment.

The review petitions challenged the authority of the apex court to intervene in the belief of the people. It argued that the temple deity is a "Brahmachari" (celibate) and "centuries-old beliefs" should not be disturbed by the entry of menstruating women worshippers.

The Supreme Court had lifted a traditional ban on entry of women of menstrual age (10-50 years) on September 28 last year.

Despite the apex court's ruling, a string of protests took place at the Sabarimala temple and its surrounding areas in the state, wherein several women attempted to visit the shrine but were stopped by Lord Ayyappa devotees.