Devaswom Board Minister Kadakampally Surendran

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Sabarimala opened for the annual Mandala-Makaravilaku festival.

Pathanamthitta, Kerala: 

With Sabarimala Temple opening for the two-month-long festival season, Devaswom Board Minister Kadakampally Surendran on Sunday said that devotees were arriving at the shrine without any fear.

“I came here last night and spent some time at Sannidhanam. What I witnessed was that devotees are coming here without any kind of fear” Mr Surendran said while talking to reporters earlier today.

“The mandalam season has begun as a season without any fear and apprehension. After the Supreme Court’s verdict, the Chief Minister has explained the government’s stand as well so there is no need of repeating it,” he added.

On Saturday, a sea of devotees thronged the temple, which opened for the annual Mandala-Makaravilaku festival. However, At least 10 women, aged between 10 to 50 years, were sent back from Pamba base camp which is nearly 6 km downhill from the temple.

When asked about the women who were sent back the Minister said, “I do not know about this incident.”

The opening of the shrine comes days after a five-judge bench of the Supreme Court referred a clutch of petitions seeking review of its order which paved the way for the entry of women into Sabarimala temple in Kerala to a larger seven-judge bench by a majority 3:2 ruling.

The top court also observed that the right to worship by an individual cannot outweigh the rights of a religious group.

The Supreme Court had lifted a traditional ban on entry of women of menstrual age (10-50 years) on September 28 last year.

Despite the top court’s ruling, a string of protests took place at the Sabarimala temple and its surrounding areas in the state, when several women attempted to visit the shrine but were stopped by Lord Ayyappa devotees.

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