In Kerala, as the Lord Ayyappa temple in Sabarimala opens for a special puja today, a thick security cover has been put in place in the temple town. The shrine will open for devotees at 5 pm today and will close at 10 pm on November 6. Over 3,000 police personnel, including a 20-member commando team and 100 women, have been deployed to ensure smooth conduct of the puja and security of the devotees.
Orders banning assembly of four or more people have already been imposed in Sabarimala and nearby areas. The prohibitory orders will continue till tomorrow.This will be the second time the hill temple would open for darshan after the Supreme Court allowed entry of women of all age groups into the shrine. Violent protests were witnessed last month against the apex court’s decision.
The hearing began in July and the apex court asked the counsel for petitioners and others to limit their arguments on the questions of reference made by a three-judge bench of apex court last year. The top court had last year asked a constitutional bench to examine the legality of the ban on entry of women in the age group of 10-50 at the temple.
The bench termed as absurd the notification of Devaswom board, which runs the temple, banning entry of women of a particular age group. It said the exclusion of a particular age group of women forces them to disclose their menstruation stage and it violates their privacy.
Kerala minister K. Surendran had said the state government was not opposed to the entry of women inside the temple. “The state government’s stand is that women should be allowed to offer prayers in Sabarimala Temple. We have filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court explaining our stand. Now it has to take a decision. We are bound to obey its verdict. Devaswom board now has the same opinion as that of government.”
The court was informed by the Kerala government that it also supported the entry of women of all age groups in the temple.