Female devotees say will not visit Sabarimala

CHENNAI: Female devotees of Lord Ayyappa on Friday took a vow here to undertake pilgrimage to the Sabarimala hill shrine only in keeping with age old traditions and avoid visiting the temple notwithstanding the recent Supreme Court verdict .Female devotees, under the auspices of the Sabarimala Ayyappa Seva Samajam, took the vow at Valluvar Kottam here after a puja-ceremony to the accompaniment of 'chenda melam,' a traditional percussion instrument of Kerala.Devotees held banners and placards like "save the tradition," and said Ayyappa is a "Naishtika Brahmachari' (celibate) and hence they would visit the shrine only after crossing the menstrual cycle.Male devotees also attended the programme, christened "sathyapramanam yerkum nigazchi (an event to take vow)."Speakers at the event spoke on the tradition of the shrine and the importance of abiding by it.Recently, the apex court had paved the way for women of all age groups to visit the Sabarimala temple where women between 10 and 50 were not allowed.Earlier, Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) president A Padmakumar had asserted that "real women devotees" of Lord Ayyappa were unlikely to visit the temple and only "women activists" will reach the hillock shrine."Is it possible for women to trek kilometers through the forest path and stand amongst the packed crowd? Only some women activists are expected to trek the holy hill in the name of the verdict," he had said.

PTI