Sabarimala temple opens today; devotees arrive at Nilakkal base camp amid protests

After the special `Athazha Puja`, the Sabarimala temple will be closed on Tuesday evening.

Share: Updated: Nov 05, 2018, 12:54 PM IST Source:ANI

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SABARIMALA: Amid tight security, devotees of Lord Ayyappa on Monday began the trek from Nilakkal base camp to the hill shrine of Sabarimala ahead of the temple`s opening this evening.

Devotees were seen trekking up the hill while chanting hymns in praise of the deity.

After the special `Athazha Puja`, the temple will be closed on Tuesday evening.

Devotees, who arrived at Erumeli since Sunday evening, protested this morning for not being allowed to leave for Pamba and Sannidhanam.

They blocked traffic chanting ‘Ayyappa Sarnam‘. “We have been waiting since last evening. We were told that we would be allowed to leave at 6 am. Now, they are telling us that KSRTC buses will be allowed to leave only by 12 PM. We have come to offer prayers to Lord Ayyappa. Please allow us to go,” an angry devotee said.

If private vehicles are not being allowed, they should be taken in the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) buses to Pamba, the devotee said. Media personnel have also not been allowed to leave Nilackal for Pamba and ‘Sannidhanam‘ (temple complex) from the base camp here till 9 AM this morning.

Nilakkal base camp in-charge Manjunath H, however, told ANI, “There is adequate police deployment here. We are not restricting the movement of devotees.”

In the wake of violent protests during the last monthly pooja, the state police have issued prohibitory orders at Pamba, Nilakkal and other areas near the shrine and are maintaining vigil on vehicles going towards the temple.

The Pathanamthitta district administration has imposed Section 144 in Sannidhanam, Pamba, Nilakkal, and Elavunkal till November 6.

Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) prohibits assembly of five or more people in an area. 

Every member of such an “unlawful assembly” can be booked for “engaging in rioting”, the maximum punishment for which is three years.

The Sabarimala Temple and its surrounding areas witnessed a series of protests in October over the apex court`s decision to quash restrictions on the entry of women between the ages of 10 and 50 into the holy shrine. 

However, in spite of the top court`s order no women in menstruating ages were able to enter the sanctum sanctorum of the temple when it opened last time. More than 3000 protesters have been arrested so far for instigating the violence that broke out in the state, while around 529 cases have been registered. 

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