Pathanamthitta: The Sabarimala Temple dedicated to Lord Ayyappa temple is set to open for devotees on Saturday for the Mandalakala season amid unprecedented security arrangements put in place by the Kerala government.
This comes days after a five-judge Constitution bench of the Supreme Court referred a batch of petitions challenging its previous order allowing the entry of women of all ages to the revered temple to a larger bench comprising seven judges. The larger Constitution bench will re-examine religious issues including those arising out of its earlier verdict that lifted a centuries-old ban on women of menstruating age from visiting the holy shrine.
Around 10,000 police personnel have been deployed in phases in and around the hill temple shrine to avoid any untoward incident after the temple reopens.
Speaking to reporters, Pathanamthitta District Collector asserted that there was no need for declaring prohibitory orders like 2018.
Last year, the temple had witnessed violent protests by right-wing outfits and devotees over the September 28, 2018, order of the apex court allowing women of all age groups, including those in the menstruating age, to offer prayers at the hill shrine.
Unlike last year, when the shrine and the adjacent areas were recuperating from the August deluge that had hit the state, the Devaswom Board this year has made extensive arrangements to receive devotees.
Besides, the Kerala Police has also warned that stringent action would be taken against those spreading false messages on social media and incite violence in the backdrop of the Sabarimala verdict.
Those who spread messages, through social media, affecting the communal harmony of the state will be arrested immediately and charged under non-bailable sections, a police press release said.
Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran had warned women activist and devotees of menstruating age to desist from 'gate-crashing’ the temple.
Surendran on Friday said 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.
“It is proper to maintain the status quo at the temple. It is not a place for activism. Earlier also, the government has not taken women devotees to Sabarimala, neither will we in future. If anyone wants to go, they can approach courts in this regard” he added.”
''Government would not encourage those women who want to visit the shrine for publicity,'' he added.
Meanwhile, women right activist Trupti Desai had on Friday announced that she will go to Sabarimala Temple after November 20 regardless of whether she would be provided protection by the Kerala government or not.
“I will go to Sabarimala after November 20. We will seek protection from the Kerala government and it is upto them to give us protection or not. Even if not provided with protection, I will visit Sabarimala for the darshan,” said Desai.