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No woman may have been able to visit Sabarimala and pray at the Lord Ayyappa temple despite the Supreme Court decreeing that they be allowed, but four transgenders made it to the hill shrine early Tuesday and offered prayers.

The four had been turned away from the temple two days back by police who asked to change into mens wear. They then approached the state Director general of Police A Hemachandran, who is a member of the high court appointed committee to monitor the pilgrimage season. Yesterday, they requested for permission. Arriving at one of the base camps early today, the four from Ernakulam draped in their choice of attire — saree — were given security cover as they started their climb from Pamba at 8 am. By 9.45 am amidst tight security they were on the hallowed 18-steps and completed paying their obeisance to the deity. There was no protest from any quarter.

The Kerala High Court on November 27 had set up the three-member observer panel to oversee the Sabarimala pilgrimage season, after numerous complaints surfaced against the manner in which the police were acting in the temple town.

Besides Hemachandran, the panel also consisted of P R Raman and S Sirijagan, both retired high court judges. The Committee got in touch with the Sabarimala tantri and the Pandalam Royal family, who gave their nod for it. This particular group got the nod as in the past too, transgenders have prayed at the temple.

The temple town has witnessed protests by Hindu groups since a September 28 Supreme Court verdict allowed women of all ages to enter the temple, including those hitherto banned girls and women aged between 10 and 50.

—India Legal Bureau

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