Amid heavy rush of devotees to the Lord Ayyappa temple, police have reportedly sent back two women devotees from Andhra Pradesh at Pamba as they were in the ‘barred’ 10-50 age group.
10 women were turned back at Pamba, 5 km from the shrine, when the temple opened for the annual Mandala-Makaravilakku puja.
Police checked the two women’s identity cards and sent them back as they were found to be in the ‘barred’ age group, police sources said. Females in this age group have traditionally been barred from praying at the shrine.
In a show of support for believers, a nine-year-old Keralite girl, who came to the temple complex from Karnataka, had a placard around her neck inscribed with the words “Ready to wait. Will visit the shrine after attaining 50 years.”
Though the top court did not stay its earlier order allowing entry of women in the Lord Ayyappa temple, the LDF government in Kerala this time said the shrine is not a ground for activism and made it clear that it would not encourage women who want to visit the temple for publicity.
With devotees thronging the temple complex, Chief priest A K Sudheer Namboodiri opened the sanctum sanctorum at 3 am on Monday and performed special pujas including ‘Neyyabhishekam’ (ghee offering), among others.
The portals will close at 11 pm and reopen for the morning pujas.