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Sabarimala all set for Makaravilakku; Heavy security at Ayyappa shrine

In view of the continuing heavy rush, more personnel of police, NDRF and Rapid Response Force have been deployed in and around the shrine for crowd management and to ensure the safety of devotees, the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB), which manages the hill temple.

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  • Currently, there is no direct railway line connecting other towns to Sabarimala. The nearest railway stations are at Kottayam, Thiruvalla and Chenganur which are about 90 kilometres from Sabarimala.

    The apex court had on November 14 asked a larger bench to re-examine various religious issues, including the entry of women into the Sabarimala Temple and mosques and the practice of female genital mutilation in the Dawoodi Bohra community.

    On November 14, last year, a five-judge constitution bench in a 3:2 majority verdict had referred to a larger 7-judge bench, the pleas seeking review of its historic 2018 judgement allowing women and girls of all ages to enter Sabarimala temple. It had however said that the debate about the constitutional validity of religious practices like bar on entry of women and girls into a place of worship was not limited to the Sabarimala case.

    A nine-judge bench of the Supreme Court will examine a host of petitions challenging the validity of several practices across religions which are in conflict with gender justice in modern India.

    The Supreme Court denied to pass any orders on a plea of two women seeking security to enter the Sabarimala temple in Kerala, with Chief Justice SA Bobde saying that it was an “emotive” issue and that the court did not want it to become “explosive”.

    The top court gave a peaceful closure to the decades-old politically and religiously sensitive case in a verdict that will be remembered for striking a balance between faith and rule of law.

    The TDB, which manages Sabarimala, said the temple earned Rs 104.72 crore revenue after it opened for the annual Mandalam-Makaravilakku pilgrimage on November 17. "As of today, the total revenue since the temple opened on November 17 is Rs 104.72 crore. Last year on the same day it was Rs 64.16 crore. We have to count coins worth Rs five crore," TDB said.

    Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde said the "balance of convenience" required that no orders are passed in the matter today as the issue had already been referred to a seven-judge bench.

    The Lord Ayyappa temple in Sabarimala would open for the two-month long pilgrim season at 5pm. 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 2pm. For centuries women in the menstruating age group were barred from entering the temple.

    The Kerala government had come up with a common Act which would govern all temples in the state and had proposed a one-third reservation for women on the proposed temple advisory committees as part of its liberal push. The bench though wasn’t too happy with it, and directed the state to come up with a separate law dealing with only Sabarimala by mid-January.

    The Supreme Court has refused to stay its 2018 ruling allowing women of all ages to enter the Sabarimala shrine but left it to a larger bench to decide constitutionality of religious practices that restricted women from entering temples, mosques or fire temples.

    The court had struck down a temple rule that disallowed women in their reproductive phases (between 10 and 50 years) from entering the temple as gender discriminatory and against right to equality enshrined in the constitution.

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