The Kerala government has withdrawn a controversial directive in a handbook distributed by the home department among police personnel on duty at Sabarimala, which said that “all pilgrims” were permitted to enter the temple as per the September 2018 Supreme Court verdict. The state government withdrew the directive after BJP took up the issue alleging that it had a ‘malicious motive’.
Despite the SC ruling that all pilgrims - including women of all ages - can enter the shrine, the temple continues with its tradition of restricting the entry of women belonging to the 10-50 age group since Lord Ayyappa is considered an eternal celibate. The LDF government had initially tried to facilitate the entry of women following the SC’s order, but it did a U-turn following a strong backlash. The state government has since been treading cautiously on the issue.