With 2 More Today, 13 Women Hounded Out of Sabarimala in 24 Hours

With 2 More Today, 13 Women Hounded Out of Sabarimala in 24 Hours

Bindu from Malappuram and Durga of Kozhikode were on their way to Sabarimala when they met with protests by more than 100 activists.

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Pamba: The two women below the age of 50, who began their trek to Sannidhanam shrine on Monday morning, were brought back to Pampa base camp after protesters blocked their way in Appachimedu, two kilometres from Sabarimala temple.

Malappuram resident Kanakadurga, 46, and Kozhikode local Bindu were on their way to the hilltop temple when agitators began raising slogans against them. Some activists even gathered outside their house in protest.

The duo arrived at Pampa by a KSRTC bus and started the trek to the holy hillock. They reached Marakkoottom by 7.30 a.m as police used force to remove the protesters.

"We are here to seek 'darshan' (offer prayers) of Lord Ayyappa. The Supreme Court order must be enforced and hope, police will provide us security," Bindu had told media while on the way to Sabarimala.

On Sunday, a group of 11 women of menstruating age made an unsuccessful bid to offer prayers at the Lord Ayyappa shrine as they were forced to return by protesting devotees.

Accompanied by police personnel, the members of Chennai-based women empowerment outfit 'Manithi' could barely move 100 metres through the traditional forest path towards the temple when hundreds of devotees rushed down to the valley to chase them away.

The women and the police had to virtually run from the scene to the safety of a nearby guardroom, abandoning the trekking plan. Defying prohibitory orders, hundreds of devotees thronged the forest path here blocking the way of the women, who reached in the early hours from Chennai.

Police tried to remove the protesters by force as they were not ready to budge despite their repeated announcements to disperse leading to the arrest of some of the protesting devotees.

Of the 11, six carried the traditional irumudikettu which is mandatory to climb the 'pathinettam padi' (holy steps leading to sanctum sanctorum). But, the women could not move forward and had to wait at the entry of the forest path for over six hours following 'namajapa' (chanting sacred hymns) protests staged by hundreds of devotees including children.

Meanwhile, heavy rush of devotees continued to pour in at the Sabarimala temple with the auspicious Mandalapuja being just four days away. The first phase of the 41-day long annual pilgrim season at the Lord Ayyappa temple would culminate on December 27 with the puja.

Kerala had witnessed massive protests by devotees opposing the apex court verdict on September 28 permitting women of all age groups into the shrine. Over a dozen women including a journalist and an activist of menstruating age had earlier tried to trek to the shrine, nestled in the Western Ghats forests, but could not make it due to protests by devotees and right-wing activists.

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