Bengaluru, November 18: Devotees continued to throng the Sabarimala temple in Kerala to offer prayers to Lord Ayyappa during the ongoing Mandala Puja festival. In an unusual incident, a stray dog has been following a group of 13 Ayyappa devotees, who are on a pilgrimage to the holy shrine. According to a video released by ANI, the dog, who is seen following the devotees, has walked 480 km so far till Sunday. The devotees started from Andhra Pradesh's Tirumala on October 31 and have reached Chikkamagaluru district's Kottigehara on Sunday evening.
The Lord Ayyappa shrine was opened on November 16 for the 41-day long annual Mandala-Makaravilakku puja festival. According to a tweet by ANI, the lord Ayyappa devotees, undertaking the pilgrimage, said they did not notice the dog at first, but it kept following them. They said it was a totally new experience for them. "We didn’t notice the dog at first. But as we continued, it kept showing up behind us every now & then. We offer it the food we prepare for ourselves. We perform pilgrimage every yr but it's a new experience", the pilgrims said. Sabarimala Temple: No Protection to Women Visiting Lord Ayyappa Shrine, Says Devaswom Board a Day Ahead of Temple Opening.
Here's the Video:
The lord Ayyappa devotees, undertaking the pilgrimage, say "We didn’t notice the dog at first. But as we continued, it kept showing up behind us every now & then. We offer it the food we prepare for ourselves. We perform #Sabarimala pilgrimage every yr but it's a new experience." https://t.co/g2fUbJ2l9p
— ANI (@ANI) November 18, 2019
On Saturday, at least 10 women, aged between 10 to 50 years, were sent back from Pamba base camp after the police did not let the women trek up to the temple. In the last week, the Kerala government had made it clear that it would not provide security to any woman of menstruating age visiting the shrine, as per Devaswom Board Minister K Surendran.
Women right activist Trupti Desai on Friday said that she will go to Sabarimala temple after November 20 regardless whether she would be provided protection by the Kerala government or not."I will go to Sabarimala after November 20. We will seek protection from the Kerala government and it is up to them to give us protection or not. Even if not provided with protection, I will visit Sabarimala for the darshan," Desai had said.
On September 28, 2018, the Supreme Court had lifted a traditional ban on entry of women of menstrual age (10-50 years). Despite the court's ruling, the southern state witnessed protests at the Sabarimala temple and its surrounding areas when several women attempted to visit the shrine but were stopped.