Accordingly the Lord Ayyappa Shrine at Sabarimala will close at 10 pm on Wednesday after the Mandala puja, marking the culmination of the 41 day Mandalam festival. Earlier the festival began on November 15 in Sabarimala and the temple will reopen on December 30 at 5 pm for the Makarvilakku festival, before finally closing on January 20.
Furthermore the temple town has witnessed protests by Hindu groups since the September 28 Supreme Court verdict that allowed women of all ages to enter the temple, including those from the hitherto banned age group of 10 to 50 years. Further ever since the verdict, around three dozen women from the hitherto banned age group, have tried and failed to go up the pathway leading to the temple, following protest from the believers.
Moreover trouble broke out early on Monday as well, when police accompanying two women devotees from Kerala clashed with angry pilgrims after they created hurdles for the two women, who are below the age of 50, from offering prayers at the temple. Reports added top police officials at the temple town have written to State Police Chief Loknath Behera that with the number of pilgrims arriving daily in the temple town, estimated to be over 70,000, providing security to women devotees would be very tough. Perhaps they suggested there should be no attempts to escort women from the hitherto banned age group to the temple.
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