Since times immemorial, the pilgrimage to the forest temple of Lord Ayyappa is an arduous one. This is because the pilgrims, who go there after 41 days of vrata and penance, have to battle extreme weather conditions, steep walk in dense forest and wild animals like tigers, elephants to have darshan of the Lord. But they have borne it with strength and fortitude, since the pilgrimage and climbing of 18 steps cleanses their human existence of all sins and evils and rids them of further rebirths.
But for the past few years, especially after the CPM came to power in the 2006 elections, evil forces represented by CPM, the Travancore Devaswom Board (government-controlled body ruling the temple) and the Islamic jehadis are making the pilgrimage torturous and humiliating.
The route to Sabarimala is through Muslim-dominated areas and for the past few years, jehadis have been targeting Sabarimala pilgrims and their vehicles, especially during the week adjoining December 6. In fact Sabarimala and Guruvayur temples are under constant jehadi threat. Earlier Christians tried to diminish the importance of Sabarimala by planting a cross there. But strong agitation by RSS and Hindu organisations forced them to remove the cross and withdraw.
The latest threat to the Sabarimala pilgrimage is from the foul-mouthed CPM Devaswom Minister G. Sudhakaran and the constantly fighting Travancore Devaswom Board president and members. The president C.K. Gupthan is son-in-law of CPM patriarch E.M.S. Namboodiripad and the members Narayanan and Sumathikutty Amma belong to CPI and RSP, both CPM allies.
Every year almost six crore pilgrims, twice the population of Kerala, come to Sabarimala. This is not to the liking of the Christians and Muslims who view the temple as a symbol of Hindu unity. Every year controversies are created to dissuade the pilgrims from undertaking the pilgrimage. Last year sex scandal involving the ?Tantri? and false statement of a Kannada actress, (who adopted Christianity) Jayamala, that she entered the sanctum-sanctorum, was used to denigrate the temple.
This year constant fighting between the Devaswom Board president and the members have made the pilgrimage torturous. Added to the agony is the comic interlude by the foul-mouthed Minister G. Sudhakaran. Violating all customs and traditions, he is colluding for women entry in the temple, which is banned as per shastras since the Ayyappa is a ?Naishtika Brahmachari?. The hardships faced by the pilgrims are given below:
Bad roads and parking facilities
Worst roads comprising of extremely deep pot-holes make travel in this mountainous route hazardous. Moreover, there is no adequate parking facility for the lakhs of vehicles coming from all over Bharat.
Water shortage and drainage mess
The pilgrimage to Sabarimala is not complete without a dip in the holy Pampa river. Failure to release water from the adjacent dam has made the Pampa dry and pilgrims are not able to undertake the holy dip. There is acute drinking water shortage and lack of proper toilet facilities. Moreover, many government establishments are draining their wastes into the Pampa, making it stinking and polluted.
Fleecing by traders and government buses
All commercial centres including hotels and restaurants are owned by Christians and Muslims and they are fleecing the pilgrims charging three to four times. Moreover, the government buses charge extra amount from the pilgrims.
Chaotic crowd management and rude police
Crowd management is next to nil. Hardly 1000 policemen are deployed in Sabarimala where almost six crore pilgrims come in 60 days. Pilgrims are herded like cattle and beaten blue and black. They are made to stand 8 to 10 hours in queue for darshan and ghee abhishek, with no facilities. The CPM regime, which did not send additional police to Sabarimala, citing manpower shortage has sent almost 500 policemen to Gujarat for election duty! Kudos to anti-Modi CPM! Compared to previous years, the behaviour of the policemen is very rude. They attack even volunteers who came for selfless work. The CPM has hand-picked and sent Christian and Muslim policemen to humiliate and torture Hindu pilgrims!
Threats by jehadis
Threats to the pilgrims from jehadis from NDF, PDP continue unabated. Attacks on vehicles and pilgrims are everyday affairs. Commando protection has been given to the temple following IB reports of a jehadi attack.
Shortage of aravana
Aravana, the kheer made of rice, jaggery and ghee is the prasad, the pilgrims take home. Every year crores of tins of this prasad are sold. The Devaswom Board created blasphemy, this year, by awarding contract for making this prasad to a Muslim, Shahnawaz. But as a godsend, he was unable to make it. But due to the mess-up made, despite several days of the pilgrimage being started, the devotees are not getting this prasad. Against the daily requirement of three to four lakh tins, 15-20,000 tins are being issued. This has created stampede-like situation on the counters selling aravana. Instead of giving prasad police are being deployed at the counters to lathi-charge pilgrims. The vigilance judge has ordered probe against the Devaswom Board, in the corruption involved in the aravana contract to a Muslim and resultant shortage of the aravana prasad, based on a petition filed by VHP and Hindu Aikya Vedi.
BJYM, VHP and Hindu Aikya Vedi leaders like Kummanam Rajasekharan have called for the disbanding of the Devaswom Board and handing over the temple to devotees for proper administration.
The six crore pilgrims who come to Sabarimala from all over India contribute thousands of crores of rupees to Kerala'seconomy. The amount they pump into Kerala is much more than the Kerala budget. But the treatment meted out to them, especially by the CPM regime, is humiliating and torturous. Kerala has to be made rid of these atheists for the temples to flourish.
Shame on the UPA-CPM which spends crores of rupees for Haj pilgrimage and the Haj House in Kozhikode, Kerala, built at a cost of Rs.10 crore and inaugurated by the Chief Minister in the presence of jehadis like Kanthapuram Musaliar.