Only male doctors and paramedics will be deployed during Mandalam season
Women can offer prayers at Sabarimala but it is a strict no-no for women doctors and paramedics at the hill shrine.
It’s an all-men army of doctors and paramedics that would reach the temple to attend to the medical needs of pilgrims during the Mandalam season beginning November 17. Around 1,000 men, including 330 doctors, will be sent to the temple in batches this year.
The all-male list has been drawn up by the Director of Medical Education (DME) and the Director of Health Services (DHS). The DME will send male cardiologists and general practitioners, picked from government medical college hospitals to Pampa, Neelimala, Appachimedu and the Sannidhanam.
In an earlier circular to the Principals of nine government medical colleges, including the ones in Thiruvananthapruam, Alappuzha, Kottayam, Thrissur, and Kozhikode, the DME had sought a list of male doctors and paramedics. Doctors from the State Health Service would join them. Each batch of doctors will stay there for seven days and the paramedics a fortnight.
DME A. Remla Beevi confirmed that only male doctors and paramedics would be deputed during the festival season. For the time being, women doctors are not being sent to Sabarimala considering difficulties in their deployment. Women will need special care. They have to be provided with better infrastructure facilities, including accommodation. Their safety also needed to be considered. Women doctors will be given the assignment after ensuring all the required facilities are in place, Ms. Beevi said.
A senior functionary of the DHS said a Government Order was required to recruit women for the job. The department has been asked to maintain the status quo regarding the deployment, he said.
The last Mandalam season witnessed uproarious scenes on the temple premises following the attempts to prevent women from entering the temple. Clashes broke out between the police and protesters who attempted to prevent women.
Squads of self-proclaimed protectors of faith, which included women and men, had checked vehicles coming to the temple to prevent women’s entry.