Kochi, December 2: In the wake of the declining number of devotees visiting the Sabarimala Temple in Kerala, the temple management is launching an advertising campaign to inform devotees that visiting the shrine is safe. In its advertisement, the temple board assures that there is no threat to the lives of the devotees visiting the Ayyappa temple in Kerala. According to a report by Hindustan Times, the number of devotees visiting the shrine during the annual pilgrimage season, dropped in the first two-weeks as compared to last year. According to the Travancore Devasom Board, which runs the temple, the number of visitors is down 60% and revenue has taken a hit by 70%.
Even the ones who visited the temple during the annual season that started mid-November, donated less in the donation box. Moreover, the devotees who visited this year bought less Aravana Payasam prasadam, the offering at the temple, the report informed. History of Sabarimala: Why Women Weren't Allowed Into The Lord Ayyappa Shrine.
The report informs that when the temple management opened the donation boxes, they found less money but found paper notes with “Save Sabarimala” written on them. In the wake of the crisis, the temple Board approached several advertising agencies to run the ad campaign in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, as a majority of devotees come from these states. Sabarimala Verdict: Why These 5 Arguments in Favour of Restricting Women’s Entry Into the Ayyappa Temple Are Baseless.
The Sabarimala temple complex has been witnessing a high drama as protestors are agitating against the entry of a woman pilgrim, suspecting her to be in the menstrual age. The report informs that protesters have been advising devotees not to buy Payasam or donate to the temple. The protest is against the local government and the temple board’s willingness to implement the top Court’s order of allowing women of all age groups to enter the temple. Supreme Court Judgement Allowing Entry of Women of All Ages in Ayyappa Temple Disappointing, Says Head Priest Kandararu Rajeevarau.
Due to early incidents of violence at the hill-top shrine, police have had imposed strict restrictions on devotees at Sannidhanam, the temple premises. The HT report informed that a businessman from Tamil Nadu, M Muthuswamy, who has been a Sabarimala veteran of 20 years, bought just one can of the Payasam, as against the 40 he used to buy for friends and relatives while returning home. He said he was convinced to do so by protesters he met on the way to the temple who said the his money will go towards destroying his ‘favourite deity’.
On September 28, the Supreme Court in its landmark judgment, paved the way for entry of women of all ages into the Ayyappa temple at Sabarimala in Kerala. The five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, in its 4:1 verdict, said that banning the entry of women into the shrine is gender discrimination and the practice violates rights of Hindu women. While Justices R F Nariman and D Y Chandrachud concurred with the CJI and Justice A M Khanwilkar, Justice Indu Malhotra gave a dissenting verdict.