Tension again prevails at the foothills of Sabarimala Ayyappa Temple with a group of 12 women belonging to the 20 to 30 years age-group trying to enter the sanctum of the temple today (23 December), reports The Times of India.
After almost three weeks of calm, devotees have reunited against the attempt being made by the 12 women from Tamil Nadu, reportedly belonging to ‘Manithi’-a Chennai based women empowerment group.
The group is headed by Selvi who is presently held in the control room in Pampa. The Tamil Nadu special branch had reportedly informed the Kerala police about the arrival of the group. Selvi has asked the Kerala police to provide due protection to them. She has also claimed that she is not an activist and is a true devotee of Ayyappa. Twitterati, however, pointed out Sevli’s social media posts (including Facebook) indicating her allegiance to the communist party and her support for fundamentalist preacher Zakir Naik and Islamist organisation SDPI.
However, with the news reports about the arrival of women breaking out, thousands of devotees staged prayer protests at different entry points en route Sabarimala, protesting against the violation of temple traditions.
Reports suggest that around ten police vehicles escorted the group of women to Pampa. Devotees chanting Ayyappa mantras subsequently blocked them. The women, however, were adamant and started staging a dharna near the Ganapathy temple at Pampa, asking for police protection to enter the shrine. Talks between police and the members of the group 'Manithi' also failed as they reiterated their demand that the police should facilitate them to offer prayers at the hill shrine.
Meanwhile, the Pandalam Royal family has informed that they are committed towards protection of temple traditions and has reportedly told the temple priests to close the ‘nada’(sanctum door) in case of any violation in temple traditions.
Despite the 28 September Supreme Court verdict that allowed women belonging to the age group between 10 and 50 to enter the Hindu holy shrine, no women from the age group have entered the sanctum amidst the strong protests. ‘Activism’ in this regard has earlier been slammed by ministers belonging to Kerala’s communist government itself, with several such activists having been turned back after attempts to enter the temple.
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