On eve of Sabarimala temple reopening agitating body says it will keep vigil to protect traditions

New Delhi: As the Sabarimala temple reopens on Tuesday, an outfit spearheading the stir against allowing women of all ages to enter the shrine said it will continue its vigil in and around the temple to ensure that religious sentiments are not hurt in any manner.
The All India Sabarimala Action Council (AISAC) said on Monday it was relieved that "no women of menstruating age (10-50 years) visited" the hill temple of Lord Ayyappa in the just concluded Mandalam season (December 27).
The Lord Ayyappa temple in the Pathinamthitta district of Kerala reopens on Tuesday for pilgrims for the 'Makara vilakku' season.
The Council is hopeful that the sanctity, traditions, rituals and customs of the shrine, where the presiding deity is a celibate yogi, will be protected at any cost, AISAC general secretary S J R Kumar said.
"We will continue our vigil in and around the temple premises to ensure that the pilgrims' sentiments and religious beliefs are not hurt in any manner," Kumar told PTI over phone from Cochin.
He also expressed happiness over the observation made by Chief Justice S A Bobde on December 5 that the Supreme Court verdict given in 2018 allowing women of all ages into the Sabarimala temple was not the "final word" and the matter had been referred to a larger Bench.
"For protecting the temple's sanctity, so many ardent devotees had protested last year and this year against entry of all women. As many as 65,000 such Ayyappa bhakts have been facing criminal cases in various courts of Kerala," Kumar claimed.
"Legally we will continue our fight in the Supreme Court to ensure that the meditation of God Ayyappa was not disturbed," he said.
Kumar, who is a former president of VHP's Kerala unit, said "it is not a small issue (entry of all women). It involves the sentiments of crores of Ayyappa devotees world over. We can't take any chances".
Though there were 3,000 Ayyappa temples in the country "there is only one Sabarimala for Ayyappa", he said referring to the uniqueness of traditions practised there.
A five-judge Constitution bench, by a majority of 4:1, in its verdict delivered on September 28, 2018, had allowed women of all age groups to visit the temple, saying that discrimination on physiological grounds was violative of fundamental rights like the Right to Equality.
However, AISAC and others opposed any change in temple traditions and started an agitation after the Left Front Government decided to implement the apex court decision.
On November 14 this year, the apex court said a larger seven-judge bench will re-examine various religious issues, including the entry of women into the Sabarimala temple.

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