Pamba: Protests continued near Sabarimala Temple on Sunday against the entry of women, aged between 10 to 50 years, into the Lord Ayyappa shrine. As per latest reports, two women belonging to Andhra Pradesh were stopped while trekking towards the sanctum sanctorum and have been brought to police control room in Pamba.

If TV reports are to be believed, the women, identified as Vasanthi (41) and Adeshi (42), were only 200 meters away from the shrine when their way was blocked by the protesters. On the other, Kerala IG, while speaking to reporters, said that the women were unaware about the special rituals of Sabarimala Temple. “They were part of a pilgrimage group from Andhra. They had been to other temples also and didn’t know of special rituals in Sabarimala Temple. When somebody told them they are not supposed to go, they did not want to go and gave a statement. They want to go back to Nilakkal.” (ALSO READ – Sabarimala Has Its Time Honoured Rituals, Shouldn’t Interfere With Them, Says Rajinikanth)

Earlier on Saturday, a Tamil Nadu woman climbed the hills to offer prayers to the presiding deity. Initially, she was stopped by the protesters, but was allowed to enter the Sabarimala Temple after presenting proof of her age. The 52-year-old woman carrying ‘irumudikkettu’ (holy bundle) climbed the 18 holy steps amid security cover to reach the temple and have ‘darshan’.

The Sabarimala temple complex and nearby areas including the base camps, Nilakkal and Pamba, have been witnessing high drama and tense moments since Wednesday, October 17 when the gates of the shrine were thrown open for the devotees for five-day monthly puja. Earlier on Friday, two women reached the hilltop with heavy police escort, but had to return before reaching the sanctum sanctorum following massive protests by Lord Ayyappa devotees.

On the other hand, the state has been witnessing massive protests by Lord Ayyappa devotees opposing the entry of girls and women of menstrual age into the Sabarimala temple since the government decided to implement the apex court order.

A five-judge Constitution bench of the Supreme Court, headed by then chief justice Dipak Misra, on September 28 had lifted the centuries-old ban on the entry of women of menstrual age into the shrine.

The portals of Sabarimala Temple will close on October 22 after the five-day monthly puja during the Malayalam month of Thulam.