(Photo by ARUN SANKAR / AFP)
(Photo by ARUN SANKAR / AFP)

Pampa: Lord Ayyappa devotees began the trek from Pampa to Sabarimala Temple on Saturday. The temple reopened on Friday for a 62-day long Mandala Pooja-Magaravilaku annual pilgrimage season.

On Friday, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan appealed to people to cooperate in ensuring a peaceful two-month long pilgrimage season at Sabarimala. The Chief Minister, in a Facebook post, said that the objective of the state government is to uphold the esteem of Sabarimala Temple, which is a major pilgrim centre in the country and is a place of worship for all people.

Vijayan also assured the people of Kerala that the state government is committed to protecting the values enshrined in the Indian Constitution. The Sabarimala Temple and its surrounding areas witnessed a string of protests in October over the Supreme Court’s decision to quash restrictions on the entry of women aged between 10 and 50 years into the shrine.

This is the third time that the temple has opened after the Supreme Court lifted restrictions on the entry of women into the shrine. So far 3,505 protestors have been arrested and around 529 cases were registered in connection with a series of incidents of violence in the state after the opening of temple gates in October.

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