- Kerala listed security concerns as a reason to not have separate queues
- A minister said it may lead to women being separated from their families
- Kerala government will set up enhanced facilities for women in the temple
The Supreme Court has cleared the way for women to visit the Sabarimala Temple in Kerala, but the State Government seems to have stopped short of rolling out the red carpet for them. The Pinarayi Vijayan administration today said having separate queues for female devotees flocking to the Ayyappa temple was "impractical".
The reason, it claimed, was security concerns.
"Worshippers have to wait for eight-ten hours in long queues for darshan, and women devotees should also be prepared for the same. We cannot do anything. Only those who are prepared to wait for hours in long queues should come here," Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran said.
He claimed that separate queues could result in women being separated from their families, which was not advisable.
Nevertheless, the Kerala government is looking at setting up enhanced facilities on the temple - including separate washrooms and bathing ghats - to ensure that women devotees are not inconvenienced. A high-power committee meeting chaired by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan took up discussions on various arrangements for them.
Given the expected rise in devotee count, the government plans to stretch darshan timings and increase days of worship. Digital booking facilities are also likely to be introduced this year to ensure effective crowd control.
Plans to restrain devotees from crowding the temple premises after worship are also on the anvil, Mr Surendran said. Besides this, the government plans to increase the number of female police personnel and install additional CCTV cameras at various places en route to the temple complex.
The Supreme Court ended an age-old ban on the entry of women between 10 and 50 years into the Sabarimala temple on September 28, a move that liberals as well as the foreign media hailed as the latest in a burst of progressive verdicts. However, the state BJP has decided to launch public protests against the verdict, which - according to it - amounts to disregarding the religious faith and beliefs of devotees.