Kochi, November 5: Scores of devotees thronged at the Sabarimala Temple in Kerala after its portals opened on Monday evening. The temple will be closed after the 'Athazha puja' on Tuesday evening. According to a tweet by ANI, devotees climbed the sacred Pathinettam Padi to enter the Sabarimala temple, the abode of Lord Ayyappa to offer prayers. Ahead of opening the temple doors for devotees on November 5, Section 144, that restricts gathering of more than four people, was imposed at Saanidhanam, Pamba, Nilakkal and Elavunkal from November 4 to November 6 to ensure safety.
Hours before the temple opened on Monday evening for a special puja, hundreds of police personnel, armed commandos, surveillance cameras and mobile jammers turned Sabarimala into a virtual fortress.
Kerala: Devotees climb the sacred Pathinettam Padi to enter #SabarimalaTemple to offer prayers. The temple, which opened this evening, will be closed after the 'Athazha puja' tomorrow evening. pic.twitter.com/jfLfc0A6jt
— ANI (@ANI) November 5, 2018
The temple opened at 5 PM and will close on 10 PM on Monday for the “Sree Chitira Atta Thirunal” puja slated for Tuesday, which will mark the birthday of the last king of the princely state of Travancore, Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma. After the special ‘Athazha Puja’, the temple will get closed on Tuesday evening. Sabarimala Temple Row: Pilgrims Protest and Shout Slogans Against Kerala Police Amid High Security.
According to a report by PTI, around 2,300 personnel, including a 20-member commando team and 100 women, have been deployed for security of devotees visiting the temple. Apart from this, at least 15 women police personnel, who are over 50 years of age, have been deployed within the temple complex.
Security has been beefed up in the areas surrounding the temple in the backdrop of protests by devotees and Hindu outfits, who have been opposing the government’s decision to implement the landmark Supreme Court verdict permitting women of all age groups to offer prayers at the hill shrine. Sabarimala Temple Verdict: Doors For Ayyappa Darshan Open For Women of All Age Groups.
In the wake of violent protests during the monthly pooja in October, the state police issued prohibitory orders at Pamba, Nilakkal and other areas near the holy shrine, and are maintaining vigil on vehicles going towards the temple. Till now, nearly 3,731 people have been arrested and 545 cases registered in connection with last month’s protests and violence. Due to the violent protest, around a dozen women in the age group of 10-50 were prevented from reaching the temple.