560 women sign up for Sabari­mala visit

Hindustan Times (Lucknow) - - Front Page -

THIRU­VANAN­THA­PU­RAM : At least 560 women in the 10-50 years age group have ap­plied on­line for dar­shan at the Sabari­mala tem­ple dur­ing the 3-month an­nual pil­grim­age sea­son that starts on No­vem­ber 17. A vir­tual queue (sabari­malaq.com) op­er­ated by the Ker­ala po­lice is in place to con­trol the flow of pil­grims, on which reg­is­tra­tions started three days ago. So far, at least 350,000 pil­grims have reg­is­tered, of whom 560 are women of re­pro­duc­tive age, Tra­van­core Deva­som Board of­fi­cials said.

THIRU­VANAN­THA­PU­RAM: As the row over al­low­ing women of child­bear­ing age en­try into the Sabari­mala tem­ple con­tin­ues to sim­mer, at least 500 women be­tween the ages of 10 and 50 years have ap­plied on­line for dar­shan dur­ing the three-month an­nual pil­grim­age sea­son start­ing No­vem­ber 17.

A vir­tual queue sys­tem (sabari­malaq.com) op­er­ated by the Ker­ala po­lice is in place to con­trol the flow of pil­grims dur­ing the sea­son. Reg­is­tra­tions on the por­tal started three days ago. So far, at least 350,000 pil­grims have reg­is­tered for dar­shan, of whom 560 are women of re­pro­duc­tive age, ac­cord­ing to Tra­van­core Deva­som Board (TDB) of­fi­cials famil- iar with the mat­ter.

Ac­cord­ing to the of­fi­cials of TDB, which runs the tem­ple, at least 1.6 mil­lion pil­grims availed them­selves of the free vir­tual queue fa­cil­ity last year. Al­though ma­jor­ity of the pil­grims do not bother with on­line regis­tra­tion, at least 30% do so to avoid stand­ing in snaking queues for six to eight hours. The queue for on­line pil­grims is sep­a­rate. Once a pil­grim reg­is­ters on­line us­ing any gov­ern­ment-is­sued iden­tity and pro­vides req­ui­site de­tails, a re­ceipt is is­sued men­tion­ing the tim­ing of the trek from the base camp at Pambha.

On Septem­ber 28, the Supreme Court had is­sued an or­der al­low- ing women of all ages en­try into Sabari­mala. The tem­ple wit­nessed vi­o­lent protests when it opened twice since the ver­dict, first on Oc­to­ber 17 and then dur­ing the just-con­cluded Sree Chithi­ray­at­tam fes­ti­val. At least 15 women have been blocked from trekking to the hill­top shrine by protesters from fringe out­fits.

Ker­ala’s Left Demo­cratic Front gov­ern­ment has vowed to im­ple­ment the top court or­der but the BJP and the Congress are back­ing the sec­tions protest­ing the en­try of women of men­stru­at­ing age into the tem­ple, on the grounds that the pre­sid­ing de­ity, Lord Ayappa, is celi­bate.

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