The famous Lord Ayyappa Temple in Kerala’s Sabarimala has received over Rs 3.30 crore as revenue on the opening day on Saturday as compared to the Rs 2.04 crore last season which was marred by the controversy over the entry of women. The Sabarimala Temple had opened for the two-month long pilgrim season on Saturday. Over 70,000 devotees have offered prayers at the shrine since it opened for the Mandala-Makkarvilakku puja.
“There is a huge increase in the number of devotees this year. We got Rs 3.32 crore revenue on the first day compared to Rs 2.04 crore last year. The devotees who visited this year are satisfied with the facilities we have arranged,” Vasu told the media.
Unlike last year when the temple complex witnessed violent protests from the right-wing groups after the state government decided to implement the September 28, 2018 verdict of the Supreme Court allowing women of all ages to enter the shrine, this year the devotees expressed happiness as there were no restrictions.
“We have stored enough drinking water to cater to the needs of the devotees. We aim to make Sabarimala plastic free pilgrim centre. We have started a campaign to avoid plastic from the irumudikettu (sacred bundle containing offerings to Ayyappa),” Vasu said.
Women's Entry Into Sabarimala Temple Still A Distant Dream
Though the apex court did not stay its September 2018 order allowing entry of women into the Ayyappa temple, the LDF government in Kerala this time said the shrine was not a ground for activism and made it clear it would not encourage women who want to visit the temple for publicity. With no support from the state government, women's entry into the temple is still a distant dream despite the top court's order as no women of the previously banned age group has so far made to the sanctum sanctorum of the shrine.
A five-judge Constitution bench of the Supreme Court had on November 14 in a 3:2 verdict decided to refer to a larger bench to re-examine religious issues including those arising out of its 2018 verdict lifting a centuries-old ban on women of menstruating age visiting the shrine.