Sabarimala pilgrimage culminates today
TRIVANDRUM: Hundreds of thousands of people have reached the Sabarimala hill shrine in Kerala ahead of the appearance of Makara Jyothi or the Light of Capricorn on Monday evening.
The light is lit after the sundown atop the mountain on the Western Ghats where around half a million devotees, mainly from the southern Indian state, arrive to have a glimpse of it.
This year there was an estimated dip of some 40 per cent in footfalls and revenue as many dropped their plan saying the entry of young women had desecrated the temple.
The Supreme Court on Sept.28 lifted an age-old ban on women of REPRODUCTIVE AGE, DEINED AS BETWEEN 10 and 50, much to the chagrin of traditionalists.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party was since on the warpath against the state’s communist government which is hellbent on implementing it.
Protests led to the death of at least one protesting devotee in stoning by the activists of Communist Party of India (Marxist) or CPM that leads the ruling coalition.
“We expect 200,000 devotees to witness the Makara Jyothi this year,” said Kadakampally Surendran, the state’s minister for temples.
“There’s a dip in the number of devotees arriving here because of the widespread violence unleashed by the (federally) ruling BJP and others.”
The temple and nearby areas where the “celestial light” is visible used to witness large crowds of devotees who get into a frenzy when the light appears, often leading to stampedes.
In two big stampedes, 106 devotees were crushed to death in 2011 and 53 in 1999 and every season this point of the pilgrimage season put the security forces on edge.
THE POLICE AND HEALTH OFICIALS ARE on high alert, and the authorities have made massive deployment of POLICE AND IREIGHTERS AND PUT MORE doctors on duty.
They have also brought in more ambulances to be put on standby and asked the hospitals in the region to go on full gear to meet any eventuality.
“We have made better arrangements this time for the comfort and safety of people,” said deputy superintendent of police NC Rajamohan. We have put up barriers to control crowds and prevent them from moving into dangerous places. We have also lit up all their trekking paths and campsites.”