A 12-year-old girl from Puducherry, who had come for a visit to Lord Ayyappa temple in Kerala along with her father and relatives, was not allowed to proceed to the shrine from Pamba on Tuesday morning.
The age of the girl, with "irrumudikettu" (offerings to Lord Ayyappa) had been shown as 10 in the virtual Q booking. But, when women police personnel examined the girl's aadhar card, she found that the girl was 12 years old. After this, the girl was refused to proceed further from Pamba to the shrine complex, police said.
The Pamba base camp is at the foothills of Sabarimala, about 5 km from the shrine.
After those accompanying the child were informed about the current situation in Sabarimala, her father and other relatives proceeded to the temple, while she could not.
Women of menstruating age, that is between the ages of 10 and 50, are barred from entering the Sabarimala Temple by its officials, who argue that the temple deity, Lord Ayyappa, had taken a vow of celibacy.
The Sabarimala temple and surrounding areas have witnessed a string of protests since October last year after the Supreme Court in its judgment, on September 28, 2018, removed the centuries-old ban on the entry of women between the ages of 10 and 50 into the holy shrine.
A five-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra said banning women's entry into the temple is gender discrimination and violates the rights of Hindu women. The ruling came after a petition argued that the practice violated gender equality.
The state and temple precincts had witnessed protests by right-wing outfits and BJP workers last year after the LDF government decided to implement the Supreme court's verdict of September 28, 2018, allowing women of all age groups to offer prayers at the shrine.
However, this year, even though the top court had not stayed its verdict on entry of young women into the shrine while posting various petitions on the matter to a larger bench, the government was exercising caution.
Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran has made it clear that Sabarimala was not a place for activists to display their activism and said the government would not encourage
such women who want to visit the shrine for publicity.
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