Sabari­mala: 500 women of ‘barred’ age reg­is­ter on­line for de­ity dar­shan

Hindustan Times (Ranchi) - - Nation - HT Correspondent let­ters@hin­dus­tan­times.com ■

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 fa­mil­iar 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 al­low­ing 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 Bharatiya Janata Party (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.

The TDB has de­cided to sub­mit an af­fi­davit in the Supreme Court favour­ing the en­try of women of all ages into the tem­ple. Ear­lier, there were se­ri­ous dif­fer­ences be­tween the TDB and the state govern­ment. “We are du­ty­bound to go by the ver­dict of the Supreme Court,” said TDB mem­ber Shankar­das.

All eyes are now on the Supreme Court, which will take up re­view pe­ti­tions against its ver­dict on Novem­ber 13. But po­lit­i­cal par­ties are in a race to ex­ploit the is­sue. On Thurs­day, se­nior BJP leader BS Yed­dyu­rappa flagged off the ‘Save Sabri­mala’ ratha ya­tra to Pathanamthitta from Kasar­gode. Congress lead­ers, in­clud­ing K Sud­hakaran and K Mu­ralid­ha­ran, are lead­ing ral­lies from five places in the state against the top court or­der.

PTI

■ Supreme Court to take up re­view pe­ti­tion on Novem­ber 13.

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