Senior Congress leader and lawyer Abhishek Manu Singhvi meanwhile declined to comment on whether he would represent the Travancore Devasvom Board (TDB) that manages the Sabarimala temple and said he has not been approached yet. “I argued as the lead counsel in Supreme Court. Nobody has approached me yet for review petition. Therefore I cannot comment,” Singhvi was quoted as saying by ANI news agency. The TDB would be submitting a detailed report about the happenings in and around the temple both to the Supreme Court and the Kerala High Court next week.
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Her attempt comes a day after three women, including a journalist, were forced to abort their pilgrimage in the face of vehement protests by devotees and an ultimatum by the temple priest to lock the shrine if any female pilgrim entered.
'They're not devotees. They've come for publicity':
Tamil Nadu: Members of Hindu Makkal Katchi protest before Anna Nagar Ayyappa Temple in Chennai against women who attempted to visit #SabarimalaTemple; say "They are not clean. They spoiled the sanctity of celibacy of Lord Ayyappa. They're not devotees. They've come for publicity" pic.twitter.com/QgaNa2stuG— ANI (@ANI) October 21, 2018
Earlier in the day, two other women from Andhra Pradesh was also stopped by protestors when they entered about 200 mts towards the temple from Pampa. They were 41-year-old Vasanthi and 42-year-old Aadhiseshi . These women were taken to the guard room at pampa. Police had offered protection but the women said that they do not want to go further. Both of them went with familes initially and did not take police protection.
Three women devotees were stopped by protestors on Sunday from going inside the temple. A 46-year-old woman, named Balamma, a native of Andhra Pradesh had reached up to "nadapandal" which is about 500 meters from the shrine. When the protesters spotted her and prevented her from entering. They circled her and asked for her ID card. When it was found that she is only 46-year-old they asked her to go back, Neethu S reported
The protesters, however, allowed other women in the above 50 age group to climb the holy hills. Meanwhile, the two women from Andhra Pradesh, gave in writing to the police that they did not want to break the centuries-old custom of the temple, sources said. Sunday is the fifth day since the temple gates were opened for the monthly puja after the Supreme Court last month lifted a centuries-old ban on women between 10 and 50 years entering the Lord Ayyappa shrine.
As the Sabarimala row in Kerala refuses to die down, Ayyappa devotees Sunday prevented two Telugu-speaking women from climbing the holy hills. The protesters chanting Ayyappa mantra stopped the women, said to be in their 40s, at the foothills itself. The women were accompanied by their relatives. The police, which took the women to safety, said that the duo informed the security forces that they came to Sabarimala without knowing the customs of the temple. The women were part of a pilgrims group visiting temples in Kerala. They have been taken to Nilackal where their vehicle was parked, police said.
Security Beefed up | The Kerala Police have stepped up security in Sabarimala and its nearby areas. Today is the fifth consecutive day after the temple gates were opened for the monthly puja after the Supreme Court lifted a centuries-old ban on women between 10 and 50 years entering the Lord Ayyappa shrine
Since the opening of the Sabarimala shrine, the base camps of the temple, Nilakkal and Pamba, have witnessed a persistant stand-off between protesters and the police who resorted to lathicharge to disperse the agitators. In protest against the police action, the namajapa (prayer) is being conducted.
Police Protection Only After 'Background Check' | The sixth woman who arrived at Pamba on Saturday, attempting to enter the holy shrine of Sabarimala, is the general secretary of a Kerala-based Dalit outfit. The woman had to halt her historic trek for the day because of heavy rains in the region. She would now resume the pilgrimage on Sunday under heavy police protection, provided she passes the ‘background check’. According to sources, certain cases are registered against the woman.
According to a Manorama report, the police for Sunday will be to use their skills of persuasion to ensure that the young women who are particular of entering the Sannidhanam are turned away. If the women remain adamant, they will be taken as far up on the hill as possible and until a point where they meet the strongest protest.
1991 Kerala HC Verdict Barred Menstruating Women to Enter | In the year 1991, following a Kerala High Court verdict, women of procreating age, which is between 10 and 50 were barred from trekking to Sabarimala temple. However, this verdict was overturned by the Supreme Court last week allowing women of all ages to enter the temple, including its inner santorium.
Temple Closes on Monday | The Sabarimala temple opened for pilgrimage on Wednesday, the first day of the Malayalam month of Thulam. Unlike other Hindu temples in Kerala, Sabarimala Sree Dharma Sastha temple is not open the year-round but opens for its devotees for the first five days of every month in the Malayalam calendar, as well as during the annual ‘mandalam’ and ‘makaravilakku’ festivals between mid-November to mid-January. The temple will be closed on Monday after which the shrine is to be shut for the rest of the month.
Frenzied protests and threats to close down the temple forced two women on Friday to return from Sabarimala on the third day of unrest as Kerala Police declined to escort a third woman to the hill shrine. The Tantri family and members of the Pandalam royal family considered closing down of the temple if further attempts were made by women from the barred age group. Chief Priest Kantararu Rajeeveru later on Friday confirmed that he would have no other choice but to close down the temple, if the age old traditions of the temple were violated.
Battle for Entry of Women | Kerala's revered Sabarimala temple has been at the centre of controversy since the Supreme Court nullified the ban on the entry of menstruating women into the shrine. On September 28, a five-judge Constitution bench of the SC, headed by then chief justice Dipak Misra, lifted the centuries-old ban on the entry of women of menstrual age into the shrine. The battle that ensued after the verdict demonstrated the power that religious tradition still has to resist change.
Six Women Denied Entry to Sabarimala | Four days after the doors of the Sabarimala temple were opened following the Supreme Court verdict allowing women of all ages to enter, sixth women arrived at Pamba, attempting to enter the temple on Saturday. However, she was told that no police protection will be provided to her until a background check is completed to determine if she was an ‘activist.’
The general secretary of a Dalit outfit in Kerala may not be able to embark on the trek from Pampa today due to inclement weather. Thirty-eight-year-old S P Manju is presently at Pampa Police Control room, where the officers had advised her not to trek today due to heavy rainfall. However, she refused, following which Kerala police said that Manju will be given the same protection as the Telangana journalist. But sources told <em>CNN-News18</em> that it would be dangerous to continue the journey amid the incessant rainfall.
Condemning the standoff between women devotees and right wing outfits at Sabarimala, spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has said that the shrine is the "abode of Lord Ayyappa" and not a place for "activism or one-upmanship".
The abode of Lord Ayyappa should be kept intact with utmost serenity, respecting tradition. It’s not a place for activism or one-upmanship.— Sri Sri Ravi Shankar (@SriSri) October 20, 2018
I am sure, while considering the review petition, the Hon’ble Court will take note of the sentiments of devotees as well.#Sabarimala
There are more protesters today as compared to yesterday. Even on the trek route from Pampa, there are thousands of agitators protesting against the opening of Sabarimala temple for women of all age groups. Police say that postponing the trek for tomorrow could pose an additional risk due to the swelling of crowd. A source said that officers will try to take Manju on the trek today itself. However, heavy rainfall continue to pose a hurdle. It is dangerous to trek at the moment. It should be clear in an hour from now if the Dalit leader could embark on the journey today. Police have detained many protesters at Nilakkal.
Kerala police advised SP Manju, general secretary of Kerala Dalit Mahila Federation, not to embark on the trek today. However she refused and will begin the journey from Pamba once the weather improves. Kerala police said that Manju will get the same protection as the Telangana journalist. A day earlier, Andhra and Telangana based news anchor Kavitha Jakkala, was seen trekking up the hill wearing military fatigues and a helmet to protect herself from the crowd. Police officers had said that they will not be able to accompany her in the night, but promised full protection in the morning.
Meanwhile, Pathanamthitta District Collector P B Nooh said there was no tension at Sannidhanam. "A woman came for darshan. Some news channels followed her...Then a crowd gathered...That was the only issue," he said. The collector also dismissed as "rumours" reports that some young women were planning to trek the hills to reach the shrine. "There were some rumours (spread) through social media. We verified them...There is no confirmed report (on young women visiting the shrine) so far," Nooh said. It is the responsibility of the administration to facilitate the darshan of Lord Ayyappa for all devotees, the collector asserted. The Sabarimala temple complex had witnessed high drama and tense moments Friday when two women reached the hilltop with heavy police escort, but had to return before reaching the sanctum sanctorum following massive protests by Lord Ayyappa devotees. Kerala has been witnessing massive protests by Lord Ayyappa devotees opposing the entry of girls and women of menstrual age into the Sabarimala temple since the government decided to implement the apex court order.
A massive protest by devotees of Lord Ayyappa broke out near the Sabarimala Sannidhanam on Saturday following rumours that a woman from Tamil Nadu below 50 years of age climbed the hills to offer prayers to the presiding deity. The situation turned tense in the area, where section 144 was clamped, as devotees gathered in large numbers at 'Valiya Nadapandhal' to protest against the woman's entry into the temple. However, the tension was defused after the woman, who had come with her family members, convinced the protesters that she was above 50 years, and proceeded to the shrine. The woman carrying 'irumudikkettu' (holy bundle) climbed the 18 holy steps amid security cover to reach the temple and have 'darshan'.
Kerala has been witnessing protests against the entry of girls and women of menstrual age into Sabarimala temple since the government had said it would abide by the ruling of the apex court. The agitation intensified since the shrine was opened for the five-day monthly pooja on October 17. On September 28, a five-judge Constitution bench of the SC, headed by then chief justice Dipak Misra, lifted the centuries-old ban on the entry of women of menstrual age into the shrine.
Reacting on Sabarimla entry row, actor Rajinikanth on Saturday said there should be no "interference" in temple traditions being followed for a long time, in his first response to the recent Supreme Court order on entry of women of all age groups into the Kerala shrine and the subsequent protests. Speaking to reporters here, he said there was no second opinion on equality for women in every sphere. "But when you talk about a temple, every temple has its time honoured rituals, besides traditions being followed for a long time. My humble opinion is that no one should interfere in that," Rajinikanth said. Noting that the top court verdict should be "respected", the 67-year-old actor however, indicated that caution should be exercised when it came to matters of religion and related rituals.
Devotees wait for opening of the Lord Ayyappa Temple in Sabarimala, Kerala. (Image: PTI)
A day earlier, the Sabarimala temple complex witnessed high drama and tense moments when two women reached the hilltop with heavy police escort, but had to return before reaching the sanctum sanctorum following massive protests by Lord Ayyappa devotees.
As the two were returning, a 46-year-old woman also made an attempt to trek the forest path from downhill Pamba to the temple complex five km away, but retracted following protests from devotees.
In a significant development, the Travancore Devaswom Board, that manages the shrine, said on Friday it would approach the Supreme Court to defuse the tense situation prevailing in the state after the government decided to implement the apex court order on entry of women of all age groups into the shrine.
In an advisory, the Union Home Ministry has asked asked Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka to tighten security in view of the continuing protests against the SC verdict.
Earlier in the day, when the two women, one identified as a Hyderabad based reporter in her late 20s, and a Kochi based activist reached the hilltop, a large number of devotees blocked them at Valiya Nadappandhal, the queue complex located a few metres away from the holy 'pathinettam padi' (the 18 sacred steps), leading to the sanctum sanctorum.
The devotees, including senior citizens and children chanting Ayyappa mantras, protested the entry of women of menstrual age group into the shrine.
Tension was defused after the women agreed to return as the state government made it clear it did not want to take them to the Sannidhanam, the temple complex, by using force against the protesting devotees.
The firm stand taken by the 'tantri' (head priest) that he would close the temple if the women were escorted into the sanctum sanctorum also persuaded them to return as per instructions of the police. Though the women had earlier insisted they should reach the shrine, police later convinced them about the gravity of the situation and conveyed the stand taken by the government and the head priest.
If they had reached the shrine, they would have been the first women from the menstruating age group to visit the Lord Ayyappa temple at Sabarimala after the apex court order permitting women of all age groups to enter the shrine. Inspector General S Sreejith, who led the police team escorting the women, later told reporters the women expressed their willingness to go back.
"The tantri has informed me that he will close the temple and go if the women enter the shrine complex. It was conveyed to the women and they have expressed their willingness to go back. We will give them protection in the same manner to climb down the hills," he said.
State Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran, who was in Thiruvanathapuram, said the government was not ready to use force and hurt the sentiments of devotees. He also said one of the women was later identified as an activist and holy Sabarimala was not a place to show their strength and activism.
"The government has the duty and responsibility to implement the Supreme Court order and give protection to devotees but not for activists," Surendran said. "Police should have examined the veracity and background of the women who came to trek to the shrine," he added. With the protests at Sabarimala intensifying, the state police chief Loknath Behera called on the governor P Sathasivam and updated him about the situation.
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