Thousands of Lord Ayyappa devotees today took to the streets in Kochi to protest against the implementation of the Supreme Court verdict allowing entry of women into Sabarimala temple.
The Communist Party of India (Marxist)-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) government, which decided to implement the ruling, held a meeting to evaluate the preparations carried out for pilgrims at the temple which will open on October 17.
Though the government has not reacted to Desai’s planned trip to the temple yet, it has evoked sharp reactions from Ayyappa devotees and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) which is campaigning against the entry of women.
Padalam royal family member, Sasikumar Varma, criticised Trupti Desai and urged social activists to refrain from making any “provocative’ move.
Ms Desai has announced plans to visit the hill shrine soon.
The ‘Bhumata Brigade’ leader has said: “We will visit Sabarimala shortly. The ongoing agitation by devotees is the violation of the Supreme Court verdict. I appeal the agitating devotees to welcome those women who come for worship at the hill shrine.”
“I want to ask the Congress and the BJP whether they are against the the fundamental rights of women. The parties should also explain their stand on this,” she added.
Holding placards bearing pictures of Lord Ayyappa and chanting his hymns, protesters, including women, marched through the roads of Kochi after launching the stir from the Shiva temple.
They urged the Central and the state governments to intervene in the matter to protect the sanctity of the centuries-old rituals and traditions of the hill shrine.
Meanwhile, the ‘Long March’ led by BJP-headed National Democratic Alliance (NDA) reached Kollam district today.
Party state president PS Sreedharan Pillai, who lead the rally, said Ms Desai was visiting Sabarimala as she perceived it to be a challenge rather than a pilgrimage.
“It is a dangerous approach. She should desist from visiting the shrine and should not make Sabarimala a tension zone,” he said. “I do not know whether she is a devotee or not. But she is coming to add fuel to the fire,” Mr Pillai added.
Claiming that the NDA rally was getting tremendous support, the leader said the march will reach the state capital on October 15.
Activist Rahul Easwar, who has announced hunger strike at Sabarimala during the five-day monthly pooja period, said they will stop Trupti Desai.
“Ours will be a Gandhian mode of protest. Hundreds of devotees will lay down on roads leading to Sabarimala if Trupti Desai attempts to visit the shrine,” he said.
On September 28, a five-judge Constitution bench, headed by then chief justice Dipak Misra, lifted the ban on the entry of women of all ages into the shrine.