Sabarimala: Kerala CM calls for Southern Devaswom ministers' meet on Oct 31
Thiruvananthapuram, Oct 26: Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has called a meeting of Devaswom (religious institutions) ministers of the southern states, from where lakhs of devotees trek to the hill shrine of Lord Ayyappa at Sabarimala to offer prayers.
The meeting will be held on October 31. It has been called to discuss the facilities to be made for the 'Mandalam Makaravillaku' season commencing from November 17 besides crowd management, the CMO sources said.
The government is planning to introduce 'Tirupati model digital queue system' (where devotees book tickets online for darshan) at Sabarimala and this would also be discussed, they said. However, the Supreme Court verdict lifting the ban on entry of girls and women in the 10-50 age group at Sabarimala, would not come up for discussion, the sources told PTI.
The state had witnessed massive protests from devotees at various places, including Sabarimala, Nilakkal and Pamba, against permitting women of all ages to enter the shrine, where the deity is 'Naishtika Brahmachari' (perennial celibate), when the temple was opened for monthly poojas from October 17-22. At least 12 women in the 'barred' age group had tried to trek the hills to offer prayers but had to retreat following widespread protests. The state government has made it clear that it had the constitutional responsibility to implement the verdict.
Taking stringent action against the protesters, over 1400 persons were arrested in connection with the protests all over the state and 450 cases registered. Meanwhile, protesting the government action, BJP took out a march to the Pathanamthitta Superintendent's office Friday morning against the widespread arrests. The hill shrine is located in Pathanamthitta district.
Opposition leader in the state assembly, Ramesh Chennithala also attacked the state government for its reported decision to appoint at least 1500 temporary hands, stated to be party sympathisers, at Sabarimala. Chennithala said the chief minister's move to deploy 'Pinarayi Sena' (Pinarayi army) at the hill shrine would be met by devotees themselves. The Travancore Devaswom Board, which has "failed totally", should be dissolved, he demanded.