The doors to Ayyappa temple opened on Monday for the second time in three weeks for a two-day special puja amid unprecedented security and protests but no girl or a woman in the age group of 10-50 years entered into the temple. The puja commenced at 5 pm on Monday and will end at 10 pm on Tuesday.
The police said Anju, a 30-year-old woman, had reached the base camp at Pamba along with her husband and two children.
A native of Cherthala in Alappuzha district, the women, however told the police that she was not keen to visit the Ayyappa shrine and admitted that she had come to Pamba following pressure from her husband, Abilash. The Police claimed it was her husband, who was forced the family undertake the pilgrimage.
While a local official claiming that the woman had sought police protection, the Superintendent of Police Rahul R Nair said the woman had not sought police escort.
#Visuals from Kerala: A 30-yr-old woman Anju arrived at Pamba, with her husband&2 children, to visit #SabarimalaTemple. They've been taken to Pamba police station.Superintendent of Police Rahul Nair says "She hasn't asked for police protection yet. If she does, we'll provide her" pic.twitter.com/PfeU2BjWfD— ANI (@ANI) November 5, 2018
As the husband continued to stick to his stand, police decided to ask their relatives to come to Pamba to take a final decision, reported news agency PTI. Anju and her family waited at the police control room as the temple closed its doors at 10 pm.
Sabarimala virtually turned into a fortress with hundreds of police personnel, including armed commandos, dotting the place where surveillance cameras and mobile phone jammers were installed.
Thousands of pilgrims entered the temple as temple tantri (head priest) Kandararu Rajeevaru and melshanti (chief priest) Unnikrishnan Namboothiri jointly opened the portals of the sanctum sanctorum around 5 pm.
No special puja will be performed Monday, temple authorities earlier said, adding the doors will be closed at 10 pm. It will open again Tuesday for the "Sree Chitira Atta Thirunal" puja to mark the birth anniversary of the last king of the princely state of Travancore Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma.
Several BJP leaders and Ayyappa Dharama Sena president Rahul Easwar reached 'Sannidhanam', the temple complex, in the evening.
Security at Sabarimala and nearby places was stepped up following violent protests by fringe Hindu groups and mainstream political parties like the Congress and the BJP against the Kerala government's decision to enforce the Supreme Court order lifting the ban on girls and women of menstruating age from entering the temple.
The temple has been witnessing protests following the Supreme Court's September 28 order to permit women in the 10-50 age group to offer prayers at the Kerala shrine. At least 12 women had made a failed attempt to trek the hills soon after the verdict, however, had to return midway amid violent protests and threats from temple authorities to shut down the shrine.
(With PTI inputs)