Lord Ayyappa temple at Sabarimala opens for 2-month long pilgrimage season.

Amid tight security, the gates of the Lord Ayyappa temple at Sabarimala were thrown open for the two-month long Mandala-Makaravilakku pilgrimage season

Kandararu Mahesh Mohanararu opened the sanctum sanctorum of the temple at 5 pm, and performed the poojas, as hundreds of devotees from Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and other neighbouring states thronged the shrine located in a reserve forest of the Western Ghats in Pathanamthitta district of the state

Devotees, who were allowed to trek the hill from 2 PM, climbed the sacred 18 steps to the temple with the “irumudikettu” (sacred bag containing the offerings to the Lord) after the priests performed the “padi pooja”

New priests– A K Sudheer Namboodiri (Sabarimala) and M S Prameshwaran Namboodiri (Malikapuram) later took charge

The state and temple precincts had witnessed frenzied protests by right outfits and BJP workers last year after the LDF government decided to implement the Supreme courts verdict of September 28, 2018 allowing women of all age groups to offer prayers at the shrine

However, this year, even though the top court had not stayed its verdict on entry of young women into the shrine while posting various petitions on the matter to a larger bench, the government was exercising caution

Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran has made it clear that Sabarimala was not a place for activists to display their activism and said the government would not encourage such women who want to visit the shrine for publicity

Those who want to visit the temple can procure a court order to enter the temple, he had said

The board has made elaborate arrangements to provide maximum amenities to the devotees.

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