With Kerala’s famed Sabarimala Temple scheduled to open for the two-month long ‘mandalam-makaravilakku’ pilgrimage season next week, it is believed that a total of 550 women in the age group of 10 to 50 have signed up through the state police’s online booking facility.
The ‘virtual queue’ system is opened by the police every year and is similar in style to the Tirupati temple through which pilgrims can select the date and time of their convenience for the darshan of the deity at Sabarimala.
Having started a few years ago, its main purpose was to control over crowding.
This year’s opening is different from usual, after the September 28 verdict by the Supreme Court of India that struck down against barring women from the age group of 10 to 50 to enter the temple saw intense agitations by right-wing groups following the two times the temple was thrown open for devotees.
Uptill now, no woman has been able to climb up the hill shrine.
Upto 3.5 lakh people have registered over the past few days alone through the system and upto 40,000 have booked KSRTC bus tickets from Nilakkal to Pamba, the two base camps of the hill shrine.
However, it is not sure whether the 550 who have registered are actually women since the system does not ask for any ID proof.
Meanwhile, the apex court will hear a batch of review petitions filed against its verdict on November 13. The state government has placed itself with the court’s order and has dispatched safety and security to women devotees. However, ruling party BJP and opposition party Congress have triggered street protests against the government’s stand.
Massive security arrangements are underway, of which include special vehicles to ride devotees.