Sabarimala: 52-yr-old woman allowed to pray after verification

Sabarimala (Kerala) [India], Oct 20 (ANI): A woman faced resistance from devotees on her entry to Sabarimala Temple on Saturday as she 'looked younger' than permitted age for entry into the sanctum sanctorum of Shannidhanam. Latha, who came to Sabarimala Temple along with her family from Trichy, had to show her identity card to the protesting devotees as they surrounded her outside the entrance of the temple to verify her age. "There was a confusion on her age, as she looked younger than the permitted age in suit. We checked her identity card and found she was 52 years of age and hence we allowed her to go for Darshan of Ayyappaa," said Ratish Kumar, one of the protesting devotees, who later escorted Latha and her family to the sanctum sanctorum. "I came from Trichy and this is my second visit to this temple," said Latha. The temple witnessed a huge gathering of devotees chanting slogans of Ayyappaa protesting against the entry of two young women, Rehana Fathima and S Kavitha yesterday. Security near the Sabarimala Temple has been stepped up following the volatile situation over the last few days after a few women unsuccessfully tried to enter the shrine with police protection. Police have been asked to maintain vigil. The priests of Sabarimala Temple also had protested after Kandararu Rajeevar, the chief priest, said he would close the temple and give the keys to the administrators if the women in restricted age group came for 'darshan' (worshipping) of the deity. Kerala Inspector General S. Srijeeth, who escorted the two young women uphill near the temple said, "The tantri (head priest) informed me that any attempts to take the women in temple will lead to its closing." "It's a ritualistic disaster. We took them up to temple and gave them protection but 'darshan' is something which can be done only with the consent of the priest. We will give them (journalist Kavitha Jakkal and woman activist Rehana Fatima) whatever protection they want", he added. The Kerala police have stepped up the security in Nilleckal (gateway to Sabarimala) and Pamba (one of the base camps) as reports of more protests by angry devotees emerged over the entry of women of all age group in the Sabarimala Temple after Supreme Court ruling. Meanwhile, the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB), responsible for the management of Sabarimala Temple said it will file a status report explaining the ground situation following the verdict by the apex court allowing women of all age group to the temple. (ANI)
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