The police barred the girl from proceeding forward to offer payers at Lord Ayappa’s shrine.
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The police after checking the girl’s ID proof, barred her from proceeding forward to offer payers at Lord Ayappa’s shrine.

The police barred the girl from proceeding forward to offer payers at Lord Ayappa’s shrine.
The police barred the girl from proceeding forward to offer payers at Lord Ayappa’s shrine.

New Delhi: As the Sabarimala temple opened for the annual two-month pilgrimage amid heavy security, the police Tuesday stopped a 12-year-old girl from trekking to the hill shrine.

The age of the girl, with “irrumudikettu” (offerings to Lord Ayyappa) had been shown as 10 in the virutal Q booking. The police after checking the girl’s ID proof at Pamba, barred her from proceeding forward to offer payers at Lord Ayappa’s shrine that has been a hotbed of protests since Supreme Court last year lifted the century-old traditional ban on the entry of women of menstruating age to the temple. The 12-year-old was a part of a group that came from Tamil Nadu and belonged to Belur. She was accompanied by her father and other relatives.

Supporting the shrine’s tradition, a nine-year-old Keralite girl, who came to the temple complex from Karnataka on Monday, had a placard around her neck inscribed with the words “Ready to wait. Will visit the shrine after attaining 50 years.”

Hailing from Thrissur, Hridyakrishnan said she had visited the shrine thrice and would have darshan of Lord Ayyappa only after she reaches 50. Her father, Harikrishnan had said devotees are those who protect traditions and beliefs.

Ever since the Supreme Court referred review petitions on the entry of women of all ages in Sabarimala to a larger bench, the Kerala government in a U-turn has pointed to “grey areas” in the judgment and indicated that it is “not going to take young women to the temple”.

To stop young women from going to the shrine, police are checking all vehicles at Nilakkal — the first base station from where pilgrims are allowed to proceed to Pamba. Women police constables have been deployed in the area.

This is the second pilgrim season after the Supreme Court’s ruling in September 2018.

While scores of young women, including activists, attempted to visit the temple last year, only two are known to have officially entered the shrine with police protection.

On November 14, the Supreme Court concluded that its September 28, 2018 judgment lifting age restrictions on the entry of women may impinge on the affairs of other religions too and will require a more detailed examination. In a 3-2 decision, the apex court decided that petitions seeking review of the verdict will be kept pending till a larger bench of seven judges’ takes a call on the matter.


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