The Kerala High Court today ruled that the Sabarimala temple is not only for Hindus but has a tradition of welcoming people from all faiths.
The ruling by the Devasom Bench, in response to a petition filed by Hindu activist and BJP fellow traveller TG Mohan Das, came as the Kerala government decided to step up security in and around the temple once it opens next month.
Mr Das petitioned that the high court should rule that the temple should be open to only devotees. The court refused to accept this.
The bench, however, asked the Kerala government and the Travancore Devasom Board to file their affidavits on the issue and posted the case to be heard after two weeks.
The court also pointed out that there was no rule that all devotees who go to the temple should carry the sacred kit on their head.
However, this is a must for the pilgrims who wish to mount the 18 steps that lead to the sanctum sanctorum, it added.
In another petition before the Devasom Bench of the High Court, four women, including two women advocates, sought the protection of the court for praying at the temple.
The state government, in its reply, said if the pilgrim was a devotee, all the necessary arrangements would be provided for a safe pilgrimage.
The court told the women that it had nothing to do in this regard as the government has assured safe pilgrimage.
Police have arrested over 3,500 people till yesterday in connection with the protests that rocked Kerala earlier this month.
A large number of frenzied devotees staying put at the temple complex and base camps had prevented at least a dozen women of menstrual age from entering the temple when it opened for monthly pujas between October 17 and 22.
Protests were also held in several other parts of Kerala by the devotees, who included a large number of women, seeking to protect the tradition of the shrine whose deity, Lord Ayyappa, is celibate.