Sabarimala tense, 50 women set out to visit shrine today

Tension in Sabarimala as 11 women try to trek Lord Ayyappa shrine, security increased

Tension in Sabarimala as 11 women try to trek Lord Ayyappa shrine, security increased

There are many Dalit women also who are reaching Sabarimala for darshan today.

Clad in the customary black dress, the women, led by Selvi, insisted on police protection to offer prayers at the shrine.

"If these women were actual devotees, they would not have been so blatant in their utter disregard for the age-old traditions and customs of Sabarimala", Sasikumar Varma from the region's Pandalam Royal family and closely associated with the temple, said.

"We hope that that the high court appointed three-member panel will look into the matter and take a suitable decision in this regard". They firmly told reporters that they will not back off from their pilgrimage.

However, BJP leader K Surendran alleged that the arrival of women was "well-planned" and the CPI-M led LDF government was behind the move.

Meanwhile, a social media message spread under the name of Sabarimala Ayyappa Seva Samajam and allied organizations threatened that they would block the women pilgrims at Chennai Central railway station and Koyambedu bus terminus to prevent them from going to Sabarimala. Police asked us to go back, citing security reasons. "We can not stand back and watch women getting attacked and left fearing for their lives". Local television channels said they had to face protests at various places on their way but police removed the protesters and helped them to reach up to Pamba.

Of the 11 women who have reached Pamba, six carried the traditional irumudikettu (the offering), which is mandatory to climb the pathinettam padi (holy steps leading to the sanctum sanctorum). "Police had said that they will provide us with protection but now they are not providing us with the same", she told the news agency. "Most of us are between 20 and 30 years old", she said.

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As per the Supreme Court's Constitutional bench verdict, the women of all age group were allowed to enter the temple premises and had held that the rule existing in the temple is regressive and against women's rights and autonomy.

Kerala has witnessed massive protests by devotees opposing the entry of girls and women of menstruating age into the temple since the state government chose to implement the Supreme Court verdict.

Kerala had witnessed massive protests by devotees opposing the entry of girls and women in the 10-50 age group into the Sabarimala temple since the state government made a decision to implement the Supreme Court order.

Selvi had told a Malayalam TV channel that the group comprised women from different states, including Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and Karnataka besides Kerala.

But Sabrimala has become a major battleground between Hindu radicals and gender activists since the Supreme Court's landmark revocation of the ban on women between 10 and 50, which has sparked waves of protests and shutdowns across Kerala.

Over a dozen women who tried to enter the shrine separately had to abort their attempt after facing stiff protests.

"We will continue the protest till we can visit the temple and offer prayers to Lord Ayyappa".

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