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Most women devotees stay away from Sabarimala pilgrimage after violent protests erupt near the Shrine
The violent protests by Hindu right-wing and fringe groups and blocking of the road took place when the hill-top temple of ever-celibate deity, Lord Ayyappa, in Kerala opened for annual Sabarimala pilgrimage.

The 'temple-banned' women were chased away and very many eligible girls and women chose to stay away from the pilgrimage this time due to prevailing tension around the temple. Violent clashes between the protestors and the police were witnessed. The media was also attacked by the protestors and women journalists were targeted.

Recently, the Supreme Court had allowed girls and women of menstrual-age to enter the temple but due to violent protests and clashes, most women chose to stay away. The protests were organized by the fringe groups due the refusal of the Left Front government of the state to file a review plea against the Supreme Court order.

Meanwhile, a twelve-hour bandh has called by Sabarimkala Action Council to protest the police action on the activists at Nilakkal and Pamba base camps for the pilgrimage.

At the ancient shrine of Sabarimala, Lord Ayyappan is worshiped as a renunciate. The temple is opened for worship only during the days of Mandalapooja, Makaravilakk, and Maha Vishuva Sankranti, and the first five days of each Malayalam month.

The devotees often undetake a Vratham or 41-day austerity period prior to the pilgrimage by taking a  frugal lacto-vegetarian diet as well as follow celibacy and teetotalism. They are supposed to purify their mind during this period. They are allowed to grow the hair and nails, but are expected to bath twice in a day and visit the local temples regularly. The devotees wear plain black or blue coluored traditional clothing and meditate on Lord Ayyappan during Vratham period and pligrimage.

Lord Ayyappan is depicted as a handsome celibate god with a small bell round the neck in yoga pose and perceived as an epitome of Dharma associated with yogic, ethical and dharmic living.

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