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Sabarimala opens yet again but no women of 'barred' age group spotted

Sabarimala opens yet again but no women of barred age group spotted
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Sabarimala: The doors to Ayyappa temple here opened Monday for the second time in three weeks for a two-day special puja amid unprecedented security over apprehension of protests by those opposing the Supreme Court order allowing women of all age groups into the shrine.

Though no girl or woman in the age group of 10-50 years was spotted at the temple, the abode of Lord Ayyappa, its eternally celibate deity, police said it had received information about a 25-year-old woman heading for the shrine with her husband and two children.

"We have got the information a woman on the way to the temple, but nobody has approached us so far for security," a police official at Pamba at the foothills of Sabarimala from where the pilgrims' trek 5 km to the temple said.

Sabarimala virtually turned into a fortress with hundreds of police personnel, including armed commandos, dotting the place where surveillance cameras and mobile phone jammers were installed.

Thousands of pilgrims entered the temple as temple tantri (head priest) Kandararu Rajeevaru and melshanti (chief priest) Unnikrishnan Namboothiri jointly opened the portals of the sanctum sanctorum around 5 pm.

No special puja was performed Monday, temple authorities said, adding the doors will be closed at 10 pm.

It will open Tuesday again for the "Sree Chitira Atta Thirunal" puja to mark the birth anniversary of the last king of the princely state of Travancore Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma.

Several BJP leaders and Ayyappa Dharma Sena president Rahul Easwar reached 'Sannidhanam', the temple complex, in the evening.

Security at Sabarimala and nearby places was stepped up following violent protests by fringe Hindu groups and mainstream political parties like the Congress and the BJP against the Kerala government's decision to enforce the Supreme Court order lifting the ban on girls and women of menstruating age from entering the temple.

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