Thiruvananthapuram: Only women activists are likely to visit the Sabarimala temple and not the “real women devotees” of Lord Ayyappa, said president of Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) A Padmakumar, on Sunday. The TBD Chief made the comment in view of the Supreme Court’s verdict that allows women of all ages to visit the temple. Also Read - Sabarimala: COVID-negative Certificate After RT-PCR Test Must For Devotees

The Supreme Court had lifted the ban on the entry of women aged between 10-50 years on September 28. Earlier, menstruating women were prevented from entering the temple due to the age-old belief of Hindu religious practise that considered their entry illegal and unconstitutional. However, the president of TDB expressed his disappointment at the verdict terming it constitutional, fundamental and gender-oriented. Padmakumar said that the Supreme Court’s verdict has not taken the geographical aspects of the temple. Since the shrine is located in the ecologically fragile Western Ghats region, no more constructions can be made in the premises, stated Padmakumar. He also promised to arrange for lodging and toilet facilities for the women devotees. Also Read - Sabarimala Lord Ayyappa Temple Reopens, Devotees to be Allowed From Today

“Is it possible for women to trek kilometres through the forest path and stand amongst the packed crowd?” said the TDB chief citing January 14, when around 5.5 lakh devotees were made to stand in queue for over 17 hours during the last ‘Makaravilakku’ day. Also Read - Sabarimala Temple Prepares To Reopen For Annual Mandalam-Makaravilakku Season, Kerala Govt Urges to Follow COVID-19 Protocols

The Board has also planned to set up a new ‘viripandal'(dormitory), which can accommodate at least 10,000 people, considering the influx of women devotees. “The work will begin by January and will be completed by the next pilgrimage season in 2019,” said Padmakumar adding that a meeting will be held on October 3 to discuss on the further steps to be taken considering the court verdict.

Meanwhile, the Opposition Congress, which had earlier hailed the verdict, on Sunday urged the TDB to file a review petition. Opposition leader in the assembly, Ramesh Chennithala reportedly said, “The social impact and the practical difficulties posed by the verdict should be taken into account.”

(With PTI inputs)