Pathanamthitta: Scores of devotees on Monday (November 18) continued to throng to the Sabarimala temple to offer prayers to Lord Ayyappa. The temple was opened on November 16 for the 41-day long annual Mandala puja festival.

At least ten women between the age group 10-50 tried trekking to Sabarimala shrine on November 16. The women were believed to be from Vijayawada in Andhra Pradesh. According to sources, a group of tourists from Vijayawada were on a temple visit in Kerala. When they reached Pathanamthitta, they thought of visiting Sabarimala shrine. But when police informed them, only women below 10 and over 50 can enter the shrine, the group returned.

Notably, the Kerala government has made it clear that it would not provide security to any woman of menstruating age visiting the shrine, as per Devaswom Board Minister K Surendran.

Women’s rights activist Trupti Desai said that she would visit the Sabarimala temple after November 20 regardless of whether she would be provided protection by the Kerala government or not.

She said, "I will go to Sabarimala after November 20. We will seek protection from the Kerala government and it is up to them to give us protection or not. Even if not provided with protection, I will visit Sabarimala for the darshan."

The Supreme Court on November 14 referred the Sabarimala case to a larger bench after reviewing petitions seeking a rethink of the apex court’s 2018 judgment that allowed women between the ages of 10 to 50 to enter the shrine. The top court also observed that the right to worship by an individual cannot outweigh the rights of a religious group.