The Lord Ayyappa temple in Sabarimala would open for the two-month long pilgrim season this evening . Security has been beefed up a the shrine to prevent any untoward incident. The Communist Party of India-Marxist-led Left Democratic Front government too is making all the preparations to make it a hassle free pilgrimage.
PTI have reported that Kandararu Mahesh Mohanararu would open the sanctum sanctorum and perform the pujas.
A K Sudheer Namboodiri would take charge as the Sabarimala Melsanthi and M S Parameshwaran Namboodiri as Malikapuram Melsanthi.
The pilgrims would be allowed to climb the 18 holy steps after the padi puja and have darshan.
The portals of the hill shrine, located in a reserve forest in Western Ghats in Pathanamthitta district of the state, would be opened for the two-month-long Mandalam Makaravilakku season this evening around 5 pm.
Devotees have started arriving at Nilackal and Pamba from various parts of Kerala and neighbouring states, but would be allowed to leave for the shrine only by 2 pm.
The state and temple precints had witnessed frenzied protests by right outfits and BJP workers last year after the LDF government had decided to implement the Supreme court’s verdict of September 28, 2018 allowing women of all age groups to offer prayers at the shrine.
For centuries women in the menstruating age group of 10-50 years were barred from entering the temple.
However, this year, even though the top court has not stayed its verdict on entry of young women into the shrine while posting various petitions on the matter to a larger bench, the government was excercising caution.
It has decided not to give police protection to women in 10-50 age group to trek the holy hills to reach the temple.
Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran has made it clear on Friday that Sabarimala was not a place for activists to display their activism and said the government would not encourage such women who want to visit the shrine for publicity.
Those who want to visit the temple can procure a court order to enter the temple, he said.
Social activist and Bhumata bridge leader, Trupti Desai, who was not allowed to offer prayers last year and had to return from Kochi airport due to protests from devotees, said in Mumbai that she would be visiting Sabarimala on Sunday.
“If women need protection to trek the hills, police should provide the same. Whether government gives protection or not we will be reaching on November 17 to offer prayers”, she said.