The area around Sabarimala temple is engulfed in anxiety as the Lord Ayyappa shrine is set to open for monthly worship on Tuesday. The temple will remain open for five days till February 17 for the monthly pujas during the Malayalam month of Kumbam. Security has been beefed up around the temple premises. The shrine had witnessed a lot of tension during the recently concluded annual pilgrim season over the entry of women in the menstrual age.
Several special rituals including ''kalabhabhishekam'', ''sahasrakalasam'' and ''laksharchana'' would be performed during the five days at the shrine, the ''sanctum sanctorum'' of which would be thrown open by chief priest Vasudevan Nampoothiri on Tuesday evening.
Certain restrictions have been put in place at the Nilakkal base camp to ensure that there is no untoward situation. There are possibilities of a protest by Sangh outfits against the entry of women.
"Considering the untoward incidents caused by various organisations in areas around Sabarimala when the shrine was opened for the Thulamasa puja and the protests over the Supreme Court order allowing entry of women of all ages into the shrine, certain restrictions have been imposed in areas to ensure smooth darshan for devotees," an official release said.
Devotees and reporters would be allowed to travel from Nilackal to Pamba and Sannidhanam only after 10 am on February 12, it said.
In a 4:1 verdict, the Supreme Court had on September 28 removed the ban on the entry of women of menstrual age. The verdict of the apex court was challenged by several right-wing groups and there have been several intense protests against the implementation of the top court order. After the verdict, several women have made unsuccessful attempts to trek to Lord Ayyappa’s shrine. However, two women --- Kanakadurga and Bindhu had entered the hill shrine on January 3, breaking a centuries-old tradition and defying dire threats from right-wing groups.
(With PTI inputs)