Sabarimala Temple Opens Amid Row Over Women Of All Ages Visiting Shrine
Thiruvananthapuram: There has been a sudden surge in online application from women in the banned age group of 10 to 50 for darshan at Sabarimala.
A record number of over 320 women aged between 15 and 45 have so far registered themselves in the virtual queue facility of the state police for darshan at Sabarimala temple during the ongoing Mandala pilgrimage season.
But the highlight today was when the police separated a 12-year-old girl from her father and the group. The sobbing girl was seen being dragged by the Kerala police even as her father and other members of the group pleaded for mercy and allow her to climb the holy hills.
But the police did not relent and forcefully took her away.
Like most women who have registered online, the girl was from Andhra Pradesh. In fact, the highest number of women in banned age group is from Andhra Pradesh (160), followed by Tamil Nadu (139). Only eight, nine and three women have registered themselves for darshan from Telangana, Karnataka and Orissa, respectively.
One interesting fact is that no woman pilgrim from Kerala has so far registered for the virtual queue.
The details on the women were gleaned from the registration details entered in the online application.
The Kerala Police is keeping a strict vigil and have been sending women devotees aged 10-50 back from Pamba in the wake of the government decision not to facilitate the entry of women in this age group till the final verdict of the Supreme Court.
Many of them are not aware of the issues. Such women devotees often understand the situation and drop their attempt to climb the hill. Most women are part of a large group either from Andhra Pradesh or Tamil Nadu.
Ironically, the recent Supreme Court order sending the clutch of Sabarimala cases to a larger bench has not stayed the earlier order allowing women of all age group to go to Sabarimala. Last year the Kerala government took a tough stand and allowed a couple of women enter the shrine under police protection.
But having burnt their fingers following a backlash from devotees, the Left government under Pinarayi Vijayan has done a U-turn this year and has instructed the police not to allow any women in the 10-50 age group to go to Sabarimala.
However, with peace returning to Sabarimala, the revenue of Travancore Devaswom Board is witnessing a huge increase compared to last year. The revenue on the opening day of the season was Rs 3.32 crore compared to Rs 2.04 crore last year.