Sabarimala protests Latest updates: The all-stakeholders’ meeting failed to reach a consensus as Pandalam royal family and high priests of the temple walked out. The royal family and tantris were demanding that the Travancore Devaswom Board files a review petition in the Supreme Court immediately, however, the board refused to accept that demand. The board reportedly agreed to file a petition after 19 November, following which, the royal family and the tantris walked out.

Kerala Deputy General of Police chaired a security meet a day ahead of the Sabarimala temple opens for devotees. This comes in the wake of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s statement that the state government will enforce law and order and ensure the Supreme Court order is implemented.

The base camp of Sabarimala shrine at Nalakkal. Firstpost/ TK Devasia

The base camp of Sabarimala shrine at Nalakkal. Firstpost/ TK Devasia

Amid raging protests over the Sabarimala issue, a Keralite woman, who announced her decision to offer prayers at the Lord Ayyappa shrine, complained that she was being slut-shamed and subjected to threats and abuses on social media.

Devotees continue to reach the Sabarimala temple trek base camp even as vehicles are being stopped mid-way to check for plying women.

As the protests for stalling the implementation of the Supreme Court order on Sabarimala, allowing women of all ages to enter the Ayyappa temple, continue to grow, Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Tuesday said that all the facilities will be provided to women who will visit the temple from 17 October onwards and that no one will be allowed to take the law in their hands.

Women devotees protesting against the SC verdict are stopping vehicles at Nilakkal, the Sabarimala base camp, are persuading women not to proceed to Sabarimala. Those who are not listening to them are not being allowed to continue. Those who were stopped by the protestors included some women media persons.

The meeting between all stakeholders in the Sabarimala temple face-off has started in Thiruvananthapuram. The meeting called by the Travancore Devaswom Board is being held to build consensus on Supreme Court verdict allowing women in the sanctum sanctorum of the shrine. The attendees include three tantris (high priest), board officials, and members of Pandalam royal family.

With the Sabarimala temple due to reopen for the first time tomorrow since Supreme Court allowed women’s entry, the Travancore Devaswom Board may seek more time from the Supreme Court to implement its order. As most of the stakeholders are agitated and protesting against the order, the temple board may cite poor infrastructure to seek more time from court and use it to try and establish consensus among groups.

Grandson of former high priest of Sabarimala Shrine, Rahul Easwar said that the Lord Ayyappa devotees were forced to take the route of Gandhian protests. Citing the example of a massive movement in Tamil Nadu, against the Supreme Court verdict banning the festival of Jallikattu, Easwar said we will also launch peaceful agitation to demand an ordinance to undo the Supreme Court’s ruling that threatens our religious beliefs.

The Shiv Sena’s Kerala unit has vowed to send a group of activists, who will commit suicide if women who are barred from entering the temple as per its customs attempt to enter the temple. The party will also deploy hundreds of its activists at Nilackkal and Pampa to block women from the menstruating age group.

Women, devotees and journalists alike, were being stopped at Nilakkal from proceeding towards the Sabarimala shrine of Lord Ayyappa. CNN-News18, reported that the protesters have started stopping cars heading towards the traditional trekking routes that lead to Sabarimala temple to check if any women are headed towards the temple.

Amid ongoing protests by Lord Ayyappa devotees over the Supreme Court judgment allowing women to enter the Sabarimala temple, Kerala Varma Raja, head of Pandalam royal family said that the apex court verdict was against the sentiments of devotees. He said that the central government should make necessary amendments to protect the rights of the believers.

The Pandalam royal family for ages has been closely interlinked with the lore of Lord Ayyappa, the presiding deity at Sabarimala. During the annual mandalam festival at the temple between November-January, the male head of the family has privileges to perform certain ceremonies.

“Pandalam royal family follows the rights and rituals of Sabarimala temple. As far as the verdict is concerned, it is against the devotees. We have moved the Supreme Court against this. We will take appropriate step after analysing the outcome of the petition,” Raja told media in a press meet.

Raja was here to take part in the protest march organised by Ayyappa Dharma Protection Committee against the 28 September verdict of the five-judge constitution bench, which had in its 4:1 verdict lifted the ban on the entry of women of menstrual age into the shrine.

The Constitution bench had said that banning the entry of women into the shrine is gender discrimination and that the practice violates rights of Hindu women.

The royal family head said the issue was not political and he was not siding with any political party. He urged that the Centre to make necessary amendments in the law against the apex court decision.

“This is not a political issue. Not siding with any political party. It’s a custom, tradition followed by thousands of believers. Central government should make necessary amendments in law with regard to this matter,” he said.

Earlier in the day, while inaugurating the protest march at Jantar Mantar, he asked the Kerala Chief Minister to consider the sentiments of the believers.

“Chief Minister must consider the sentiments of the believers. The President of India and the Centre must interfere in the matter,” he urged.

The BJP-led NDA had organised the protest against the LDF government’s decision not to file a review petition against the Supreme Court’s verdict allowing women of all ages to enter the Sabarimala Temple by lifting the ban on those between 10-50 years.

The state has been rocked by protests by Congress, BJP and Hindu outfits against the government’s move to implement the apex court order.

Meanwhile in Kerala, amid continuing protests on the Sabarimala issue, a temple body which manages the Lord Ayyappa shrine Sunday invited various stakeholders for a meeting to discuss ‘various aspects’, including preparations for the annual pilgrimage season, beginning next month.

As Various Hindu outfits and Lord Ayyappa devotees have been staging protests over the last few days all over Kerala against implementation of the Supreme Court order, the call for talks is considered an attempt for a consensus.

The three-month-long annual ‘Mandalam-Makaravilakku’ pilgrimage season of the Sabarimala Temple will begin on 17 November.

Updated Date: Oct 16, 2018 14:27 PM