More than 500 women aged between 10 and 50 have registered with the online booking system for pilgrims who want to visit Kerala’s Sabarimala temple, the site of violent protests by those who want to enforce a customary ban on women of menstrual age despite a Supreme Court order. However, the identities of the women, who are among three lakh people who have expressed interest, cannot be verified, Kerala Police, which runs the system, said.
The online booking system, also known as virtual queue, helps devotees reserve their ‘darshan‘ timings at the hill shrine.
“This data has to be taken cautiously because there is no way to validate this. The online booking on the Kerala police website, doesn’t ask for an identification card before registration. It also doesn’t have a payment gateway through which we can authenticate the identities of those who have registered,” senior police official Tomin Thachankary told NDTV.
However, the online booking system with a payment gateway on the website of the Kerala government road transport corporation that runs buses to Sabarimala hasn’t seen any registration by women in the aged between 10 and 50, the officer said.
Sabarimala temple will open for its main pilgrimage season when lakhs of devotees are expected to visit the hill shrine on November 16. This is the third time the temple will be opening after Supreme Court’s historic verdict that allowed women of all ages to offer prayers at the shrine.
But women of menstruating age weren’t able to enter the temple as protesters fought street battles with police to keep them out.
With the main pilgrimage season is just days away, Kerala government has decided to make Nilakkal, around 24 km from Pamba, the only base camp for the pilgrims.
Sabarimala temple is 4km further uphill climb from Pamba, which earlier was the final base camp. The vehicles of pilgrims will now be stopped at Nilakkal and devotees will have to either take a state transport corporation bus or walk up to the shrine.