Tension prevails in Pamba as 11 women attempt to trek
Tension prevailed at Pamba, the foothills of the Lord Ayyappa Temple in Kerala, this morning as a group of 11 women, below the age of 50 years, tried to trek the hilltop shrine, even as devotees protested against the move.
The women, members of the Chennai-based "Manithi" outfit, are now squatting on the road.
Police have thrown a security ring around them.
This is how the devotees stopped the women group
The women, who attempted to trek through the traditional forest path, about 5km from the temple complex, could not go forward as devotees started 'namajapa' (chanting of hymns of the lord) protest against them.
'We'll continue the protest till we can visit the temple'
Despite the Supreme Court's September 28 landmark verdict permitting women of all age group to offer prayers at the temple, women between the age group 10-50 years are traditionally barred from entering the Sabarimala temple.
"We will continue the protest till we can visit the temple and offer prayers to Lord Ayyappa," Thilakavathi, one of the members of the group, said.
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More members of 'Manithi' will join women for Sabarimala visit
Thilakavathi said that citing the security reasons, police asked them to go back but they'll not go back.
"Priests of the local temple at Pamba did not cooperate with us and declined to get our 'irumudikettu' (sacred offering to the God) ready as per custom. So, we did it on our own," she said, adding more members of their outfit will soon join them.
The outfit even demanded protection from police to offer prayers
Of the 11 women, six carried the traditional 'irumudikettu' which is mandatory to climb the 'pathinettam padi' (holy steps leading to sanctum sanctorum).
Clad in the customary black dress, the women, led by the outfit's coordinator Selvi, insisted to the police that they want protection to offer prayers at the shrine.
As the news spread, a large number of devotees thronged Pamba.
Manithi consists of women from MP, TN, Odisha, Karnataka, Kerala
Anxiety had loomed large in and around Sabarimala temple for some days as 'Manithi', the outfit, had declared that a group of 50 women, all below the traditionally barred age of 50 years, would visit the shrine today.
The group comprised women from different states, including Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, and Karnataka besides Kerala, said the outfit's coordinator Selvi.
Outfit also informed Kerela CM Pinarayi Vijayan about their visit
Selvi further said that they had already written to the office of Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and informed him about their plan to trek to the hill temple.
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 Kerala government decided to implement the Supreme Court verdict.
Kerala HC appointed committee to oversee issues related to Sabarimala
Four transgenders, who were earlier stopped from proceeding towards the Lord Ayyappa temple citing security reasons, offered prayers at the hill shrine under heavy police security earlier this week.
The Kerala High Court earlier this month appointed a three-member committee, vesting them with powers to oversee law and order and other problems faced by pilgrims during the ongoing annual season.