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Sabarimala temple row HIGHLIGHTS: Shrine opens amid violent protests, women entry stalled by protesters

Sabarimala temple row HIGHLIGHTS: Security is heightened in Kerala as Sabarimala temple opens for the first time since the historic Supreme Court verdict that allows women of all ages inside the premises. Follow this space to track all the latest news

By: Express Web Desk Written by Vishnu Varma | New Delhi, Pamba | Updated: October 18, 2018 10:51:47 am
Sabarimala Temple row LIVE Sabarimala opens today HIGHLIGHTS: Tensions are running high in Kerala. Express Photo

Sabarimala Temple Row Live Updates: Amid threats of “mass suicides” and disruption, the famous Sabarimala Temple in Kerala opened its doors on Wednesday evening at 5 pm —  including for women devotees of all ages. Tensions are running high in Kerala as the gates to the hill shrine have been opened for the first time since the Supreme Court lifted the age-old entry ban on women in the 10-50 age group.

Read LIVE updates of Sabarimala hartal here

At least one elderly woman was hurt in the violent protests that took place in Nilakkal near the Sabarimala base camp. The police took to lathicharge as protesters pelted stones at those trying to trek to the Sabarimala shrine. The media personnel, including female journalists, present at the site were also attacked and threatened by the protesters who asked them to turn off their cameras and return.

Two women who tried to undertake the 5-km trek from the base camp at Pamba river were forced to return after walking for a few metres.

Sabarimala latest news in Malayalam | Tamil

Earlier today, as devotees made their way to the shrine, the police detained multiple protesters for blocking the pilgrims. Representatives of the Thantri (priest) family and members of the Pandalam Royal family were also detained. The BJP, in a warning to Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, said, “The protest will change the face of Kerala.” Kerala BJP leaders also warned of “severe consequences” if the police lathicharge “Hindu devotees.”

In Pictures | Kerala tense as Sabarimala temple opens to women today

Live Blog

Amid series of protests, Sabarimala Temple in Kerala will today allow women devotees of all ages inside the shrine. Follow LIVE UPDATES in Hindi, TamilMalayalam


    20:43 (IST)17 Oct 2018
    Vehicles vandalised by protesters
    20:07 (IST)17 Oct 2018
    Protesters blocking entry of women a contempt of court: Sitaram Yechury
    19:32 (IST)17 Oct 2018
    Photos of devotees outside Sabarimala
    19:00 (IST)17 Oct 2018
    NCW urges Kerala police to provide protection to women

    In light of violent protests against the Supreme Court judgment allowing women to enter the Sabarimala shrine, the National Commission for Women urged the Kerala police to ensure security of women who wish to offer their prayers at the temple. The NCW demanded stringent action against the protesters and also asked DGP Kerala Loknath Behera to submit a detailed action report.

    18:39 (IST)17 Oct 2018
    WATCH VIDEO: Police vandalise parked vehicles in Pampa
    18:32 (IST)17 Oct 2018
    WATCH VIDEO: Prayers being offered at Sabarimala
    18:30 (IST)17 Oct 2018
    RSS-BJP behind the attacks on devotees: Kerala minister EP Jayarajan

    Kerala minister EP Jayarajan addressed the media on the issue of violence near the Sabarimala temple on Wednesday, ANI reported. Blaming it on the RSS, he said, 'RSS criminals hid in forests and attacked the Ayappa devotees. 10 media personnel, 5 devotees and 15 policemen were attacked.'

    He further said, '10 KSRTC buses were damaged. Devotees from other states were beaten up and sent back. RSS-BJP is behind all of this. Supreme Court rule applies to all, the govt is just following and implementing it.'

    18:18 (IST)17 Oct 2018
    Reporter slapped, his phone snatched and broken
    18:15 (IST)17 Oct 2018
    Journalists assaulted, media vehicles vandalised
    18:12 (IST)17 Oct 2018
    Visuals from the site of protest

    (Source: Vishnu Varma)

    18:10 (IST)17 Oct 2018
    Media vehicles vandalised in protests

    A media vehicle stands damaged due to stone pelting by protesters near Nilakkal. (Source: Vishnu Varma)

    18:01 (IST)17 Oct 2018
    Visuals of the protest near Sabarimala

    Police chase away protestors who tried to stop women of menstruating age from going to the Sabarimala temple at Nilackal, a base camp on way to the mountain shrine in Kerala, India, Wednesday. (AP Photo)

    17:41 (IST)17 Oct 2018
    Section 144 to be imposed tomorrow

    Section 144 is to be imposed in four areas - Nillakkal, Pamba, Sannidhanam and Elavumkal - tomorrow, The News Minute quoted Pathanamthitta District Collector PB Nooh as saying. He further said that there would be no obstruction to peaceful pilgrims tomorrow, and permissions will not be granted for any protests whatsoever.

    17:26 (IST)17 Oct 2018
    Devotees can offer prayers till 10:30 pm today

    The devotees can offer prayers at the Sabarimala shrine till 10.30 pm today. The portals will remain open till 22nd October.

    17:14 (IST)17 Oct 2018
    Sabarimala opens for all

    Amidst ongoing protests, the Sabarimala shrine has been opened for monthly rituals.

    17:12 (IST)17 Oct 2018
    Visuals from Pambaa
    16:46 (IST)17 Oct 2018
    Sabarimala protests turn violent: Here is what happened so far

    Protests intensified Wednesday as the famed shrine of Lord Ayyappa in the Sabarimalatemple in Kerala is set to open its doors to devotees, weeks after the Supreme Court allowed entry to women of all ages.

    The agitation against the apex court verdict shifted to Nilackal and Pamba, the two main base camps of Sabarimala, and had turned violent.  Despite the high security and assurances from Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, two women pilgrims were forced to turn back fearing for their safety. Several women journalists were heckled and protesters pelted stones at media vehicles.

    Here is what happened so far

    16:40 (IST)17 Oct 2018
    LDF govt responsible: BJP leader

    BJP leader MS Kumar took on the LDF government for its failure to maintain law and order in the state as protests at Nilakkal turned violent. "LDF govt is fully responsible for any law and order situation in the state. It's a very unfortunate situation, we aren't responsible. No BJP worker is involved, we're condemning that attempt," he said.

    16:37 (IST)17 Oct 2018
    WATCH VIDEO: Journalist in police van, was attacked by protesters
    16:35 (IST)17 Oct 2018
    Non-bailable FIR against Rahul Easwar, arrested
    16:17 (IST)17 Oct 2018
    Site of violent protests enroute Sabarimala shrine

    Map showing the site of protest near the Sabarimala shrine

    16:11 (IST)17 Oct 2018
    WATCH VIDEO: Police lathicharge the crowd
    16:10 (IST)17 Oct 2018
    Elderly woman hurt in stone pelting; Protesters threaten journalists, ask them to return

    The protests at Nilakkal near the Sabarimala base camp turned violent with the protester and the police throwing stones at each other. At least one elderly woman has been rushed to hospital after she was injured in the stone pelting, allegedly from the side of the police. The media personnel at the location are facing hostility from the protesters who have been asking reporters to switch off cameras and return. Women journalists at the spot are also being asked to leave. However, the police have been ignoring these threats to journalists.

    16:08 (IST)17 Oct 2018
    NCW holds meeting in light of violence against female journalists

    Meanwhile, the National Commission for Women has taken cognisance of the attack on women journalists and a meeting is underway at the NCW office to discuss further steps, ANI reported.

    16:05 (IST)17 Oct 2018
    Police lathicharge the protesting crowd

    According to The News Minute, police have lathicharged the crowd. The police personnel are in riot gear and are throwing the stones back at the protestors.

    16:00 (IST)17 Oct 2018
    Rahul Easwar detained: reports

    According to reports, Rahul Easwar, a member of the Thantri family of Sabarimala was detained by the Pamba police. Easwar is the president of 'Ayyappa Dharma Sena', which is at the forefront of the 'Save Sabarimala' campaign and has been protesting against the Supreme Court order.

    15:54 (IST)17 Oct 2018
    Ayyappa devotees ahead of climbing Sabarimala hill

    Ayyappa devotees taking a dip in the Pamba river ahead of climbing Sabarimala hill

    (Source: Vishnu Varma)
    (Source: Vishnu Varma)
    15:33 (IST)17 Oct 2018
    WATCH VIDEO: Protestors attack journalist's car
    15:32 (IST)17 Oct 2018
    SC order is constitutional, govt bound by it: Kerala minister
    15:07 (IST)17 Oct 2018
    Stone pelted at media vehicles in Nilakkal

    There are reports of violence in Nilakkal, a halting-place for the Ayyappa devotees during Sabarimala pilgrimage. Stones were pelted on media vehicles and some female journalists were also attacked by the protestors.

    14:03 (IST)17 Oct 2018
    Sabarimala protests: Kerala minister accuses RSS & BJP of double-standard

    Kerala minister VS Sunil accused the RSS and BJP of talking double standards on the Sabarimala issue. "On one hand, five advocates associated with the BJP gave petition in Supreme Court over entry of women of all ages in Sabarimala temple, and on the other hand, the BJP is leading a fight against the verdict. Now it is trying to relate the issue to law and order situation," he said, reported news agency ANI

    13:26 (IST)17 Oct 2018
    Govt trying to make Sabarimala a war zone: BJP leader MT Ramesh

    Talking to reporters at Sannidhanam, temple tantri Kandaru Rajeevaru said the centuries-old rituals and traditions of the Lord Ayyappa shrine should be protected. While Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader, M T Ramesh said the government and police were trying to make Sabarimala a "war zone". "It is important to protect the sanctity of the Lord Ayyappa Temple. The government is not taking into consideration the sentiments of Ayyappa devotees who are coming in large (numbers) to Nilakkal and Pamba," he told reporters in Pamba.-PTI

    13:11 (IST)17 Oct 2018
    Woman journalists reportedly attacked near Sabarimala Temple

    The News Minute also reports that one of its reporters and a Republic TV journalist were attacked by the mob who were protesting against the Supreme Court verdict. The police has taken them to a local police station. However, a mob seems to be waiting outside the premises, the report adds

    13:08 (IST)17 Oct 2018
    Bus passengers threaten couple who wish to go to Pamba

    A couple from Tamil Nadu, aged 45 and 40, on their way to Pamba, were forced to get off from the KSRTC bus Monday night allegedly by some activists of the Sabarimala Achara Samrakshana Samiti. Although the couple had said that they would go only up to Pamba and not climb Sabarimala, the activists stopped them from proceeding. The police later took them to safety.

    13:06 (IST)17 Oct 2018
    Another woman stopped at Pathanamthitta bus terminal

    Another woman hailing from Alappuzha district was stopped by protesters at the Pathanamthitta bus terminal, reports news agency PTI. The passengers including women chanting Ayyappa mantra urged the woman, Liby, not to violate the centuries-old custom of the shrine where women in the menstruating age group are not allowed. Liby said she would climb the hills and no one had the right to violate the freedom granted by the Supreme Court. The woman was later escorted out to the bus station by the police.

    12:50 (IST)17 Oct 2018
    Woman forced to return from steps of temple

    Madhavi, the first woman who attempted to enter the Sabarimala Temple, was forced to return amid the protests over the Supreme Court verdict. Even though the police personnel gave them protection and allowed them to move further, the family, after walking a short distance, decided to return as angry activists of Ayyappa Dharma Sena surrounded them and asked them to go back. They eventually left the shrine dejected. The News Minute reports that 50 people have been booked for blocking Madhavi's way.Nilakkal: A woman Madhavi on her way to #SabarimalaTemple returned mid-way along with her relatives after facing protests. #Kerala— ANI (@ANI) October 17, 2018

    12:19 (IST)17 Oct 2018
    Sabarimala protests: Representatives of Royal family detained in Pampa

    Representatives of the Thandri (priest) family and members of the Pandalam Royal family were detained in Pamba for protesting against the Supreme Court's verdict that allows women of all ages in the shrine.

    Reacting strongly on the development, Kerala BJP leader Shobha Surendran warned of "severe action" if the police touch "any Hindu devotee." Talking to reporters in Pamba, she said, "I am warning the Chief Minister that if the police resort to lathicharge on Hindu devotees, the BJP will firmly rally behind these pilgrims. I also want to tell the CM that consequences will be severe." Adding that the protests will change "the face of Kerala," she asked, "Why were the members of the priests family and the royal family detained when they did nothing to provoke. They were protesting peacefully. I also want to tell the CM who persisted to get the SC verdict delivered in favour of the govt that there will be severe consequences."

    Shoba, along with K Surendran and MT Ramesh are undertaking Nama japa (prayers) at Pamba.

    11:40 (IST)17 Oct 2018
    Why is Sabarimala pilgrimage considered so important?

    Sabarimala is considered one of the biggest pilgrimages in the world, with millions of people offering prayers at the temple chiefly from the five south Indian states. Unlike other Hindu temples in the state, Sabarimala Sree Dharma Sastha temple is not open the year-round. It opens for devotees to offer prayers for the first five days of every month in the Malayalam calendar, as well as during the annual ‘mandalam’ and ‘makaravilakku’ festivals between mid-November to mid-January.

    Most of the pilgrims arrive at the temple during the busy ‘mandalam’ and ‘makaravilakku’ festivals, after they undertake a rigorous 41-day vratham, or a vow of abstinence. During this 41-day period, devotees are required to wear only black or deep blue attire, address each other as ‘swami’, perform daily pujas, abstain from non-vegetarian food, liquor and sex and not wear footwear. However, it is not mandatory for everyone to observe the ‘vratham’ to offer prayers at the temple.

    The temple is also open to people from all religions.

    11:20 (IST)17 Oct 2018
    The lore of Lord Ayyappa

    The myth of the presiding deity at Sabarimala is connected to the Pandalam royal dynasty which had settled in present-day parts of Pathanamthitta after breaking away from the Pandya dynasty. The King and Queen of Pandalam were believed to be childless. The story goes that when the King went hunting one day, he found a crying baby by the side of the river in a forest. Upon inquiring, a sage advised the king to take the baby home and bring him up as his own son, which the King eventually did. The child was named Manikandan and grew up to become the prince of Pandalam.

    When Manikandan was 12, the queen of Pandalam developed a sudden illness and the physician treating the Queen recommended tigress’s milk to treat the same. While everyone shied away from the responsibility of bringing tigress’s milk from the forest, Manikandan volunteered to do so. He eventually not only brings the medicine, but himself rides a tigress, accompanied by several cubs, to return to the kingdom. The king, said to have been elated with his adopted son, realises that he is no ordinary child. According to the lore, Manikandan expresses his desire to renounce the kingdom and all material wealth and become an ascetic. The king later builds a shrine for his son, 30 kms away atop a hill that eventually became Sabarimala, where Manikantan acquires a divine form and becomes Ayyappan.

    11:12 (IST)17 Oct 2018
    Sabarimala row: Listen in to what the protesters have to say

    Map showing Sabarimala shrine and Nilakkal, the base camp where violent protests took place on Wednesday.

    Sabarimala temple opens today LIVE Updates:

    The Sabarimala temple was once owned by the royal family of Pandalam, and its administration was handed over to the then princely state of Travancore in 1949. The Lord Ayyappa temple has traditionally barred all women of menstruating age considering them as "impure." Ever since the Supreme Court lifted the ban, series of protests have rocked Kerala. The Pinarayi Vijayan government has extended support to the judgment and will not file a review petition.

    Read: SC removes gender barrier, throws open Sabarimala to women of all ages

    Read: Everything you need to know about the unique temple, its myth and pilgrimage

    Heavy security has been deployed as the temple opens today. With chants of "Swamiya Saranam Ayyappa" hailing the Lord, women devotees picketed the road at Nilackal and checked buses and private vehicles for girls and women of the "banned" age group and forced them to abandon their pilgrimage to the shrine which also involved a 6-km arduous hill trek.

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