Amid heightened security, the doors of the Sabarimala temple opened for the public Monday for two days for the “Chitira Atta Thirunal” puja, marking the birthday of the last king of the princely state of Travancore, Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma. The temple will close Tuesday at 10 pm after the ritual.
The temple was reopened for the second time yesterday since the Supreme Court lifted the age restriction on women entering the hill shrine. The violent protests last month had forced the police to impose prohibitory orders in Pamba, Nilakkal, Erumeli and Elavunkal, located at the base of the hill. Scores of protesters were present on Monday as well to bar women from entering the temple.
On Monday, only one woman, a 26-year-old, was seen trying to enter the temple. However, she later told the police at the base camp at Pamba that she was not keen on continuing the trek. Meanwhile, BJP state president P S Sreedharan Pillai sparked controversy after an audio tape emerged of him telling a gathering that the violent protests in October were “almost planned” by the party.
Around 2,300 personnel, including a 20-member commando team and 100 women personnel, are deployed to ensure the security of devotees.
Sabarimala temple is open for a two-day ritual known as Chithira atta thirunal. Follow HIGHLIGHTS below. Read in Malayalam
RSS leader climbs sacred steps without offerings for the deity
A row broke out in Sabarimala over the violation of tradition when an RSS leader and a temple board official climbed the sacred 18 steps without carrying the customary "Irumudikettu" (offerings carried by devotees for the deity), PTI reported. Television channels aired visuals of Valsan Thillankeri, the RSS leader, at the golden 18 steps which lead to the sanctum sanctorum without the offerings. However, Thillankeri said he had not violated any customs and claimed to have climbed the steps carrying the offerings, reported PTI.
Temple doors to open at 5pm, close at 10pm
'Namajapa' (prayer) session by devotees in progress at Sabarimala Sannidhanam. The temple doors will open at 5pm and will close at 10pm to mark the end of 'Chithira Atta Vishesham'
A 'namajapa' (prayer) session by devotees in progress at Sabarimala sannidhanam, the temple doors open at 5pm and will close at 10 pm to mark the end of 'chithira atta vishesham' @IndianExpress pic.twitter.com/8GUFh6Maee— Vishnu Varma (@VishKVarma) November 6, 2018
BJP leaders at Pamba
BJP leaders A N Radhakrishnan and P K Krishnadas during a 'namajapam' (prayer) session at Pamba. The leaders were earlier made to use the state transport services to reach Pamba from Nilakkal after their private vehicle was disallowed along the route.
State BJP leaders barred from taking private vehicle to Pamba
State BJP leaders, including A N Radhakrishnan and P K Krishnadas, were reportedly stopped at Nilakkal as they were travelling in a private car. They have taken a state transport bus to Pamba. The police is not allowing private vehicles to travel between Nilakkal and Pamba. KSRTC has regular shuttle services to transport devotees.
Security heightened; no reports of young women wanting to climb Sabarimala
There is heavy deployment of police around Sabarimala on Tuesday. There are no reports of any young women wanting to climb the hill shrine this morning. Meanwhile, here are some pictures from the base camp of Pamba. (Express Photos/Vishnu Varma)
Woman in late 20s attempts to visit Sabarimala
On Monday, only one woman attempted to enter Sabarimala. Anju, in her late 20s, arrived at Pamba with her husband and two children in a bid to go to Sabarimala, becoming the first woman in the 10-50 age group to attempt to climb the hill shrine after the temple opened for ‘Chithira atta vishesham’ ritual.
However, a police officer at the Pamba police control room confirmed she would return home. The woman and her family, from Alappuzha district, held discussions with top police officers on Monday evening and the police is reported to have conveyed to them the security concerns in climbing up the hill. Read more here.
Cameraman attacked at Sannidhanam
A cameraperson from Mathrubhumi was attacked by protesters after he climbed on top of a sunshade at Sannidhanam.
52-year-old woman injured by protesters
A 52-yr-old woman, Lalitha from Thrissur, was surrounded by protesters at Sannidhanam after they suspected that she was not above 50 years of age. She told reporters that she had come for her grandchild's 'choroonu' (first rice-feeding ceremony) at the Pamba Ganapathy Temple and that the police had checked her ID card and cleared her entry.
Lalitha was injured in a scuffle which ensued after she reached the top. She's currently at the Sannidhanam hospital and still wants to visit the temple. After protesters found out that her age was cleared, devotees themselves are providing security for her to visit the temple.
Reporter injured in scuffle at Sabarimala
There are reports of a journalist being injured in a scuffle outside Sannidhanam police station.
On Day 2, situation tense at Sabarimala
Sabarimala opened at 5 pm on Monday amid heightened security for a two-day ritual which will end tonight. There were several protesters at the temple to bar women from entering, despite the Supreme Court's order allowing women of all ages to enter the hill shrine. There was one woman, a 26-year-old, who made her way till the base camp at Pamba, but later told the police that she did not want to continue the journey. The temple will remain open till 10 pm tonight. Follow our LIVE blog for the latest news and updates.
Large number of devotees protest arrival of 26-year-old woman
The 26-year-old woman who wants to trek to the Sabarimala hill shrine has been identified as Anju. Her husband Abhilash and children aged 7 and 4 years are with her. "She is at the police control room here now. She says she wants to trek to the hill shrine. No decision has been taken so far on whether to take her to the temple or not today," a police official told PTI. As the news spread, a large number of devotees gathered at a local auditorium and began chanting Lord Ayyappa mantras to protest the arrival of the young woman.
Sabarimala chief priest denies he consulted BJP Kerala head on closing the shrine if young women entered it
The chief priest of Sabarimala temple Kandararu Rajeevaru denied reports that he consulted with BJP Kerala chief P S Sreedharan Pillai on closing the shrine if women in 10-50 age group entered it. "I only discussed that (closing the temple if women between 10-50 yrs of age come to sanctum sanctorum) matter with my family members and I did not discuss anything with the BJP chief of Kerala and I have nothing more to add to it," ANI quoted the priest as saying.
A row erupted earlier in the day after Malayalam news channels aired a video clip in which Pillai purportedly said that the temple’s chief priest consulted him before threatening the closure of the shrine if women in 10-50 age group entered it.
Large police contingent deployed outside Pamba control room
A large police contingent, including cops in riot gear and constables, are outside the Pamba control room where a 26-year-old woman, along with her husband and two kids from Cherthala, has approached the police to climb up the Sabarimala hill. While the woman is reported to have changed her mind and wishes to return, her husband wants to visit the Sabarimala temple along with his family. However, it has been learnt that the family members of the couple have told police not to let them climb the shrine as could be dangerous.
26-year-old woman seeks permission to climb up Sabarimala hill
A 26-year-old woman, along with her husband and two kids from Cherthala, has approached the police to climb up the Sabarimala hill. Police are verifying their background at the Pamba control room and it is not clear if they will be allowed to go. The family had first wanted to go to the Pamba Ganpathy temple, till which women are allowed.
Adequate arrangements in place for smooth 'darshan', says IG
IG Ajith Kumar, security in-charge of Sabarimala temple, said adequate arrangements have been made for smooth 'darshan' of all devotees as the temple doors opened for public at 5 pm on Monday. "We've made adequate security arrangements for facilitating 'darshan' of all devotees. We have various threats in this area, taking into consideration various threat perceptions, we've provided security arrangements for everyone," ANI quoted.
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
Sabarimala issue a golden opportunity for us: BJP Kerala chief kicks up row
BJP Kerala chief P S Sreedharan Pillai’s purported remarks on Sabarimala kicked up a storm on Monday after Malayalam news channels aired a video clip in which he purportedly said that the temple’s chief priest consulted him before threatening the closure of the shrine if women in 10-50 age group entered it. In the video, Pillai was also heard telling party workers: “Sabarimala issue is a golden opportunity for us.” He also claimed that the agitation was “BJP’s agenda”. Read the full story here.
Sabarimala temple doors open
Sabarimala temple doors open for the "Sree Chitira Atta Thirunal" puja slated for Tuesday, marking the birthday of the last king of the princely state of Travancore, Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma.
More crowds than usual this year at Sabarimala
More crowds than usual this year as compared to the same day in previous years. However, things have calmed down at Nilakkal and Pamba. Earlier there were reports that devotees, who arrived at Erumeli since Sunday evening, protested this morning for not being allowed to leave for Pamba and Sannidhanam. They blocked traffic chanting 'Ayyappa Sarnam'.
Pilgrims irked by police's insistence to check identity proofs and answer questions
With just one-and-a-half hours left for the opening of the Sabarimala temple, hundreds of pilgrims at Nilackal and Erumely were seen arguing as they faced repeated obstacles from the police from advancing. What irked them most was the insistence to check their identity proofs and answer questions as they tried to reach the sanctum sanctorum.
Vishnu Das, 70, was angry at the way the police was managing the pilgrims' progress. He said it was the first time in his 56 years of visit to the shrine that he has been put into such difficulties. "The police are out to create trouble and the scene here is as if it's a battleground. The police is very intimidating. Till last year, there were no issues at all. The visit to Sabarimala is supposed to bring solace, but this time everything has changed," IANS quoted Das as saying as he was walking towards Pamba.
Mobile jammers installed near Sabarimala temple
The Kerala Police has installed mobile jammers near the Sabarimala temple to prevent the tantri and other shrine officials from interacting with the media and to dissuade live visuals. The special one-day pilgrimage that will start on Monday at 5 pm and end on Tuesday at 10 pm.
In Pics | Police stopping private vehicles enroute Pamba at Nilakkal
(Express Photo by Vishnu Varma)
Pilgrims unhappy with fewer buses being operated to Pamba
Angry outbursts among devotees over KSRTC reportedly running few buses between Nilakkal and Pamba today. Dozens of devotees protest by walking from Nilakkal to Pamba. 'Why is the government hellbent on harassing devotees? There are thousands of us and very few buses. Is this how they want to treat us?' said one pilgrim
Situation calm in Nilakkal, private vehicles being stopped
In Nilakkal the situation is extremely calm and under police control. Private vehicles have been stopped and devotees are being sent in state transport buses to Pamba. No private vehicles except those of the media and government officials are allowed to go to Pamba. KSRTC is conducting regular shuttle services between Nilakkal and Pamba. (Vishnu Varma)
Devotees begins trek from Nilakkal base camp to Sabarimala Shrine
Tantri Kandararu Rajeevaru and chief priest Unnikrishnan Namboodiri to jointly open the temple doors
Tantri Kandararu Rajeevaru and chief priest Unnikrishnan Namboodiri would jointly open the temple doors and light the lamp at the 'Sreekovil' (sanctum sanctorum). Devaswom minister Kadakampally Surendran said the state government would ensure complete protection to believers. So far, no women in the 'barred' age group had approached police for protection to offer prayers at the hill shrine, he said. The Pandalam royal family, closely associated with the Ayyappa shrine, said it was "pained" at the heavy security in and around Sabarimala. "Saddened that devotees will have to offer prayers at the shrine amid thick police cover," it said.
Protestors block at Erumeli ahead of temple opening
Reports suggest protestors have blocked vehicular traffic on the Erumeli-Elavumkal Road blaming the police for creating hurdles ahead of the temple opening. Various Hindu organisations have called for statewide protests against the Supreme Court verdict.
Media personnel stopped at Nilackal base camp
Media personnel have also not been allowed to leave for Pamba and 'Sannidhanam' (temple complex) from the base camp here till 9 am this morning. Director General of Police (DGP) Loknath Behara has said no restriction of any sort has been imposed on media persons. "To ensure necessary protection to the media, we are not allowing them now. As soon as security arrangements are complete, media will be allowed in Sabarimala and nearby places," he said.
Devotees being blocked at Pamba and Sannidhanam ahead of temple opening
Devotees, who arrived at Erumeli since Sunday evening, protested this morning for not being allowed to leave for Pamba and Sannidhanam. They blocked traffic chanting 'Ayyappa Sarnam'. "We have been waiting since last evening. We were told that we would be allowed to leave at 6 am. Now, they are telling us that KSRTC buses will be allowed to leave only by 12 pm. We have come to offer prayers to Lord Ayyappa. Please allow us to go," an angry devotee said. If private vehicles are not being allowed, they should be taken in the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) buses to Pamba, the devotee said.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar on Sabarimala
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar on Sabarimala issue: "those demanding for entry of women in Sabarimala temple, they are not Bhakts. Menstruating women do not visit temple in our culture. I'm sure the court will review the decision."#saints meet in Delhi @IndianExpress— Lalmani Verma (@LalmaniVerma838) November 4, 2018
Pinarayi Vijayan calls Amit Shah's statement 'an attack on Supreme Court'
In a statement posted on his own Facebook account, CM Vijayan called Shah’s remarks “an attack on Supreme Court, Indian Constitution and our judicial system”. “The BJP president’s assertion that courts must only pronounce verdicts which could be carried out conveys the message that fundamental rights guaranteed by our Constitution are not meant to be implemented. These statements of Shah also reveal the true colour of RSS and Sangh Parivar.”
Amit Shah asks on Sabarimala: Why issue orders that can’t be enforced?
With the BJP and RSS leading protests against the Supreme Court order to open the Sabarimala shrine to women of all age, BJP national president Amit Shah said courts should desist from pronouncing verdicts which cannot be implemented. Shah also accused the state LDF government of using “force on the devotees” to implement the order, and warned Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan that “your government will not last”.
In his first public reaction to the Sabarimala verdict, Shah, who began his speech with ‘Swamiya Saranam Ayyappa’ mantra and concluded it by making the crowd shout Ayyappa chants, said, “I want to tell the (state) government and those who pronounce orders in court that you should issue orders that can be implemented, not the ones that break the faith of people… Article 14 (right to equality) is always being cited and appreciated. But there are Articles 25 and 26 which give every citizen the right to follow his faith. How can one fundamental right subsume the other?”
Devotees gather at Nilakkal base camp
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar hopeful SC will 'rethink its decision'
Speaking on the Sabarimala issue, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the head of 'Art of Living' said he was confident that the Supreme Court would look into the public sentiments and do a rethink on its decision. Ravi Shankar was speaking in New Delhi at the two-day conclave of the Akhil Bhartiya Sant Samiti.
BJP warns of serious repercussions if police takes action
BJP leader M T Ramesh said if police tried to hinder devotees from visiting Sabarimala, it would lead to 'serious repercussions'. The temple complex and nearby areas last month witnessed violent protests by Ayyappa devotees against the entry of young women. At least 12 women had made a vain attempt to reach the shrine of Lord Ayyappa, a celibate after the Supreme Court permitted women in the 10-50 age group to offer prayers there.
Like police, we are also fully prepared, says Rahul Eshwar
Activist Rahul Easwar, president of Ayyappa Dharma Sena that is among the outfits spearheading the protests, in a video message said, "Like police, we are also fully prepared". Easwar, belonging to the Thazhamon family of Sabarimala thantris, was arrested twice last month — in connection with the protests in and around Sabarimala against the government's decision to implement the court verdict and also for making certain remarks — and is out on bail. Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee president Mullapally Ramachandran said the situation in Sabarimala was "explosive" and accused the CPI(M)-led LDF government of failure to handle it. Easwar, belonging to the Thazhamon family of Sabarimala thantris, was arrested twice last month in connection with the protests in and around Sabarimala against the government's decision to implement the court verdict and also for making certain remarks. He is out on bail.
Temple doors being opened on the occasion of “Chithira Aattavisesham”
The doors of the temple will be opened in the evening for puja on the occasion of “Chithira Aattavisesham” on Tuesday, the birthday of the last King of Travancore, Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma. It will be closed at 10 pm on Tuesday but would reopen for darshan from November 17 for the three-month-long annual pilgrim season. The temple is opening for the second time since the Supreme Court overturned a centuries-old order barring women of age 10-50 from entering the temple. The first time the temple opened after the order- from October 17 to October 22- no woman was able to successfully enter the temple despite security cover.