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Only Women Who Are Prepared to Stand in Long Queues Must Visit Sabarimala, Says Kerala Govt

A high-power committee meeting chaired by CM Pinarayi Vijayan discussed various arrangements to be made for women devotees, days after the Supreme Court opened the gate of the temple for women of all ages.


Updated:October 1, 2018, 11:12 PM IST
Only Women Who Are Prepared to Stand in Long Queues Must Visit Sabarimala, Says Kerala Govt
File photo of Sabarimala Temple. (PTI)
Thiruvananthapuram: The Kerala government on Monday said it was "impractical" to have separate queues for women at Sabarimala, though it decided to facilitate their visits to the Ayyappa temple by providing better facilities.

A high-power committee meeting chaired by chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan discussed various arrangements to be made for women devotees, days after the Supreme Court opened the gate of the temple for women of all ages.

On October 28, a five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra lifted the ban on entry of women of menstrual age into the shrine.

Monday's meeting also held that it would be "impractical" to have separate queues for women at the 'sannidhanam', the temple complex. "Worshippers have to wait for 8-10 hours in long queues for darshan and women devotees also need to be prepared for the same. We cannot do anything. Those who are prepared to wait for hours in long queues only (they) need to come," Devaswom minister Kadakampally Surendran said.

Women devotees would mostly be accompanied by their male relatives and other worshippers. In case of separate queues, there is a possibility of them getting separated from their family members, he said. However, separate washrooms and bathing ghats would be provided for women worshippers, he said.

There were also plans to restrain devotees from staying back at the 'sannidhanam' after worship. They would be encouraged to leave the shrine to avoid rush of pilgrims, he said. With a huge rush of devotees expected, talks will be held with the temple administration to increase the darshan timings and pooja days, he said.

For effective crowd control, digital booking facilities would be introduced this year on the model of Tirupati temple, the minister said. This would also help know the total number of devotees expected to visit the shrine each day beforehand and enable authorities make better security arrangements, he said.

With more women devotees expected, there would be an increase in the number of female police personnel, the minister said, adding more CCTV cameras would be installed at various places on the route to the temple complex. Women police personnel would be posted at the holy 'padinattam padi' (18 steps) if needed, he added. This year's Mandalam-Makaravillaku festival will be plastic-free, he said.

Apart from this, he said that 25 percent of seats in buses on Sabarimala route will be reserved for women devotees.
“Based on SC verdict, we will make all arrangements for devotees to do Sabarimala darshan this ‘mandalam season’. Women devotees will be given facilities at nilakkal, erumeli and all other camps. We will provide separate toilets for women and they will be coloured differently so that people can make it out easily," he added.

Chief secretary Tom Jose, chief minister's private secretary MV Jayarajan, Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) member KP Sankardas and DGP Loknath Behara were among those who participated in the meeting.

Meanwhile, BJP state president S Sreedharan Pillai said the party planned to launch state-wide agitations to protect the interest of Sabarimala devotees. "The BJP will take all steps to check the ruling CPI(M)'s efforts to destroy Sabarimala under the garb of the top court's order," he said. The government failed to make the court realise the significance and unique features of the hill shrine which resulted in such a verdict, he told reporters in Kozhikode.

Congress’ Ramesh Chennithala also said that the temple board should file an appeal because the verdict is “hurting crores of devotees”. “SC has not considered the social impact and pain of devotees of Sabarimala. I feel RSS wanted to start a campaign on uniform civil code, so it is supporting this. RSS supporting entry of women in Sabarimala temple is crucial step towards common civil code," he claimed.

A Kochi report said the Kerala high court on Monday directed the TDB to apprise it about the steps taken by it in view of the apex court's decision on entry of women of all ages to Sabarimala. The direction was issued by a bench comprising Justice PR Ramachandra Menon and Justice Devan Ramachandran while considering a periodical report by the Sabarimala special commission. The board informed the court that it would submit the report in a week's time.

(With inputs from Neethu Reghukumar)
(Get detailed and live results of each and every seat in the Lok Sabha elections and state Assembly elections in Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim to know which candidate/party is leading or trailing and to know who has won and who has lost and by what margin. Our one-of-its-kind Election Analytics Centre lets you don a psephologist’s hat and turn into an election expert. Know interesting facts and trivia about the elections and see our informative graphics. Elections = News18)
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