Mandalam festival: Sabarimala temple to close on Wednesday
Sabarimala: The Lord Ayyappa Shrine at Sabarimala will close at 10 pm on Wednesday after the Mandala puja, marking the culmination of the 41-day Mandalam festival. The festival began on November 15 here. The temple will reopen on December 30 at 5 p.m. for the Makarvilakku festival, before finally closing on January 20.
The temple town has witnessed protests by Hindu groups since the September 28 Supreme Court verdict that allowed women of all ages to enter the temple, including those from the hitherto banned age group of 10 to 50 years.
Ever since the verdict, around three dozen women from the hitherto banned age group, have tried and failed to go up the pathway leading to the temple, following protest from the believers.
On Sunday, 11 women devotees from Tamil Nadu were sent back in the face of steep protests mounted by traditional Lord Ayyappa devotees.
Trouble broke out early on Monday as well, when police accompanying two women devotees from Kerala clashed with angry pilgrims after they created hurdles for the two women, who are below the age of 50, from offering prayers at the temple.
According to sources, top police officials at the temple town have written to State Police Chief Loknath Behra that with the number of pilgrims arriving daily in the temple town, estimated to be over 70,000, providing security to women devotees would be very tough. They suggested there should be no attempts to escort women from the hitherto banned age group to the temple.
The sources added that intelligence reports indicate that in the coming days many women devotees in the traditionally barred age group of 10-50 will try to visit the temple to offer their prayers to Lord Ayyappa.