Sabarimala Temple reopened on Monday evening for two days for the “Chitira Atta Thirunal” puja and will close today at 10 pm after the ritual ends, amid heightened tensions and security following past intense agitations against women entering the temple after the Supreme Court of India, in a 4-1 verdict, asserted that the temple be open to women of all age, ending the entry ban on women of menstruating age.
There were no reports of any young women wanting to climb the hill shrine since morning.
On Monday, only one woman, a 26-year-old, was reported trying to enter the temple. However, she later told the police at the base camp at Pamba that she was not keen on continuing the trek.
Meanwhile, BJP state president P S Sreedharan Pillai ignited controversy after an audio tape emerged of him telling a gathering that the violent protests in October were “almost planned” by the party.
Around 2,300 personnel, including a 20-member commando team and 100 women personnel, were deployed to ensure the security of devotees.
On September 28, the Chief Justice of India headed bench of the Supreme Court, in a 4-1 verdict, asserted that the temple be open to women of all age, ending the entry ban on women of menstruating age. It said the centuries-old custom at the shrine was not an essential religious practice and “the attribute of devotion to divinity cannot be subjected to the rigidity and stereotypes of gender”. Four of the five judges on the bench — then CJI Dipak Misra, Justices R F Nariman, A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud — ruled against the restriction on women while Justice Indu Malhotra gave a dissenting opinion, saying “the religious practice of restricting the entry of women between the ages of 10 to 50 years is in pursuance of an ‘essential religious practice’… notions of rationality cannot be invoked in matters of religion by courts”.
In October, the apex court had said that it would hear the review petitions regarding its earlier judgment last month that allowed women of all ages to enter the Sabarimala temple in Kerala on November 13.
The temple opened on October 17, the first time after the apex court verdict, and closed on October 22 after the evening prayers.
Twelve women had been stopped by protesters from reaching the temple.
The temple administration had threatened to lock the temple and stop rituals if any tradition would be broken. The Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) said that it would file a detailed report on the ‘grave situation’ to the Supreme Court.
The Pathanamthitta district administration Friday had imposed Section 144 in four areas, police said Sunday. Prohibitory orders have also been issued for the base towns of Pamba, Nilakkal, Erumeli and Elavunkal. Around 2,300 personnel, including a 20-member commando team and 100 women personnel, have been deployed to ensure smooth ‘darshan’ and security of devotees.