Many in Kerala expressed happiness as the Supreme Court on Thursday referred the issue of entry of women into Sabarimala Ayyappa temple and other religious places to a larger seven-judge bench.

But what has come as a dampener is that there is no stay on September 28, 2018 judgement which lifted the ban on the entry of women aged between 10 and 50 in the temple, which means women of all ages can visit the shrine till a larger bench decides this issue.

This means it's going to be trouble for the Pinarayi Vijayan-led Left government as certain women's organisations have announced that they will be coming to pray at the temple when the two-month-long festival opens at 5 a.m. on Sunday.

Activist Tripthi Desai reacting to the verdict said that since there is no stay on the verdict, she will be reaching Sabarimala temple soon. In the last season, she along with her supporters was prevented from reaching the temple following strong opposition from Sangh Parivar activists.

Reacting to the verdict, Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala said this is a setback to the Left government as there is going to be a review. "While this ruling gives hope to the believers that the new larger bench will take into account the issue of faith. For the Kerala government this is a setback," said Chennithala.

The Sabarimala temple 'tantri', Kanteraru Rajeevan expressed hope and happiness that this new directive gives strength to the Ayyappa believers. "Thanks to Lord Ayyappa for this new directive and we will now wait for the new bench to look into everything," said Rajeevan.

But Rahul Eshawaran, an ardent devotee of Lord Ayyappa who hails from the tantric family of Sabarimala said this is a partial victory for all of us. "What has to be noted is, today's directive also states that when the Sabarimala issues is taken up it will be looking into other religions also," said Eashwar and added that with the new season opening up, they will all be proceeding to the temple town to see that traditions are not broken.

The Pandalam Royal family, which has an emotional bind with the Sabarimala temple and they are in possession of the temple jewellery also expressed happiness with the verdict. "The very fact that there is going to be larger bench which will be looking into it is a positive thing. This re-look is certainly a huge relief for the believers," said Sreekumar Varma, spokesperson of the Royal family. Former State BJP president Kummanem Rajasekheran said this verdict is a positive step. (Agencies)