The restrictions mentioned on the entry and darshan for women below 50 years at the Ayyappa temple at Sabarimala during the Mandala-Makaravilakku season has been withdrawn from the portal for virtual queue booking.
The restrictions on women and other genders (transgenders) below 50 and above 65 years appeared on the portal for virtual queue booking maintained by Kerala Police, when the advance booking for 1,000 additional pilgrims on weekends and weekdays began on December 2.
The ‘government’s change in stance’ on women’s entry amidst electioneering to the three-phase poll to the local bodies in the State has come in for flak even from the ruling party. Kerala Police, which has maintained the portal since 2010 and has the domain, has now all of a sudden withdrawn the restrictions.
In place of the removed section that stated a ban on women below 50 years of age, the guideline now says devotees between the age of 60 to 65 should carry medical certificates while coming for darshan.
When the temple was opened for the ongoing pilgrimage season on November 16, the government had announced that children below 10 years and people above 65 years will not be permitted to the temple in view of the COVID-19 situation.
It was during the second leg of virtual queue booking that curbs were announced on the portal, inviting criticism and surprising even the Travancore Devaswom Board.
TDB president N. Vasu had stated that no instructions were issued by the board for any restrictions on entry of women at the Sabarimala temple and that the entry of women below 50 years was a non-issue now.