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Sabarimala verdict: Kerala not to file review petition, says ‘no one will be stopped from entering temple’

Thiruvananthapuram: The Kerala government on Wednesday said that it won’t file a review petition challenging the Supreme Court order allowing women of all ages to enter and worship at the famous hill shrine at Sabarimala. The state government also assured the safety of women devotees going to the revered shrine.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan as saying, ”Kerala government will not file a review petition on the Sabarimala verdict. We will ensure facilities and protection to women devotees visiting the Sabarimala temple.”

The Chief Minister added that women police personnel from Kerala and neighbouring states will be deputed to ensure law and order in and around the temple premises.

”Women who want to go to Sabarimala cannot be stopped,” Vijayan said.

On October 28, a five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra had lifted the ban on entry of women of menstrual age into the shrine.

While the SC ruling was welcomed by several women’s rights groups, it was criticised by several others.

The Travancore Devaswom Board also opposed the entry of women into the temple. Board’s president A Padmakumar on Sunday said “real women devotees” of Lord Ayyappa are unlikely to visit the Sabarimala temple and only “women activists” will undertake the pilgrimage.

The members of the Pandalam Royal family, which has rights over rituals conducted in Sabarimala, said that they would file a review petition against the Supreme Court’s verdict.

One of the members, RR Varma, said, “Sabarimala was the family temple of Pandalam Royal Family and we handed it over to the government. The court has not fully analysed the situation in Sabarimala. The verdict has insulted the faithful.’’

Meanwhile, hundreds of Ayyappa devotees, including women, had blocked state and national highways in various parts of Kerala on Tuesday protesting the recent Supreme Court verdict.

The ‘Antarrashtriya Hindu Parishad’ (International Hindu organisation), an outfit launched by Praveen Togadia after being sidelined from the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, was among the outfits which launched the protests.

In the state capital, the activists squatted on the road at Killipalam from 11 AM to 12 AM, chanting Ayyappa mantras, but allowed ambulances and vehicles carrying patients to pass.

Ambili, a woman activist from Idukki, doused herself with petrol but was immediately whisked away by police.

The activists held aloft placards, stating that the court was not bigger than Lord Ayyappa and demanded that the state and central government enact suitable legislation to maintain the age old ban.

Rahul Easwar, activist and President of Ayyappa Dharma Sena, took out a march from Hanuman Kovil to Palayam here.

In Pandalam in Pathnamthitta district, the Ayyappa Dharma Samrakshana Samithi led a march under the leadership of the Pandalam Royal family and observed Tuesday as ‘Ayyappa Dharma Samrakshana’ (Save Lord Ayyappa) day.

A march was taken out from the medical mission junction to the Pandalam Ayyappa temple, in which thousands of people, including women took part, chanting ‘Ayyappa Sarnam’ and demanded a review of the Supreme Court verdict.

The Pandalam Palace Nirvahaka Sangam denied some social media reports that the Pandalam palace would not hand over the “thiruvabharanam” (sacred ornaments worn by Lord Ayyappa) to temple authorities during the Makaravilakku festival, to protest against the court verdict.

Roads were blocked at Kollam, Alapuzha, Palakkad and Kochi.

The AHP said it would also begin taking signatures from believers visiting temples against the verdict.