Thousands of Lord Ayyappa devotees on Saturday took to the streets in Kochi to protest against the implementation of the Supreme Court verdict allowing entry of women into Sabarimala temple.
Holding placards bearing pictures of Lord Ayyappa and chanting hymns, protesters marched through the busy roads of Kochi, the state’s commercial hub, after launching the stir from a Shiva temple there. The faithful, a large number of them women, urged the Central and state governments to intervene in the matter to protect the sanctity of the centuries-old rituals and traditions of the shrine.
Kerala CM slams BJP, Congress over Sabarimala stir; terms it ‘deliberate’ attempt to destroy state's unity
Meanwhile, the march led by BJP-headed National Democratic Alliance reached Kollam district on Saturday. BJP state president, P S Sreedharan Pillai, who lead the rally, said 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. I do not know if she is a devotee or not. But she is coming to add fuel to the fire,” Pillai said. Claiming that the NDA rally was getting tremendous support from all sections of people, the leader said the march would reach Thiruvananthapuram on October 15.
Meanwhile, Shiv Sena’s Thiruvananthapuram district secretary Peringamala Aji threatened mass immolation if women try to break the age-old tradition of the temple. “Our women workers are ready to die. We can’t digest such an insult. The Kerala government and Travancore Devasom Board are playing with fire,” he said. Though Shiv Sena has little following in the state the party has been taking a belligerent stand on Sabariamala issue since the verdict.
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.
ACTIVIST TRUPTI DESAI SAYS SHE WILL SOON VISIT THE SABARIMALA SHRINE
Amidst strong sentiments against the Supreme Court's verdict allowing women in the 10-50 age group into the Sabarimala Temple in Kerala, gender equality activist Trupti Desai said on Saturday that she was still determined to visit it.
"We will announce a date very soon to visit the Sabarimala Temple as the apex court has upheld the fundamental rights of women... There should be no attempt to stop us because we now have equal rights," Ms Desai said in Mumbai. She has played a major role in opening up to women shrines like Mumbai's Haji Ali dargah that were hitherto closed to them.
In the best interest of all, she should not venture out to challenge the feelings of thousands of devotees who have taken the apex court ruling as a shock...," Mr Pillai, who is leading a march in protest against the September 28 ruling to the state capital from Alappuzha, told the media on Saturday.
Rahul Eashwar, a member of the Sabarimala tantric family requested Ms Desai to desist from coming to the temple.
"We will be staging a protest in true Gandhian style if there is any attempt to break the traditions and culture of the temple. We request her to pray in other Ayyappa temples in the state and not at the Sabarimala temple," Mr Eashwar told the media.
The temple doors will open on October 18 for its routine monthly pujas.
SHIV SENA THREATENS SUICIDE IF WOMEN ALLOWED ENTRY TO SHRINE
The Kerala unit of the Shiv Sena on Saturday warned of mass suicide if women dared to enter the Sabarimala Temple, ANI reported. “Our women activists will gather near the Pamba river on October 17 and 18 as part of a suicide group. If any young woman tries to enter Sabarimala, our activists will commit suicide,” Peringammala Aji, a member of Sena, was quoted as saying by the news agency.
FIR FILED AGAINST ACTOR KOLLAM THULASI OVER HIS CONTROVERSIAL REMARKS
The Kerala Police on Saturday registered a case against actor Kollam Thulasi for saying that “women who dare to enter Sabarimala temple should be torn into two pieces”.
The FIR against Thulasi, who had contested as a BJP candidate in the 2016 assembly elections, was registered on a complaint by Ratheesan, a local leader of the DYFI, the youth wing of the CPI(M). The actor was booked under Sections 295A (outraging religious feelings), 298 (uttering words with intention to wound religious sentiments), 354A (making sexually coloured remarks) of the IPC. He has also been booked under Section 119A of the Kerala Police Act, which deals with sexual gestures or acts in public places degrading the dignity of women. The Kerala State Women’s Commission registered a suo motu case against Thulasi.
Under fire for his remarks, Thulasi on Saturday tendered an apology. “I should not have made those statements. I reacted in such a manner due to my extreme devotion. I am withdrawing that statement and offering an apology if my words have hurt anyone. I got carried away by the enthusiasm of mothers who had taken part in that prayer meeting. My words only reflected the pain of a devotee of Ayyappa,’’ he said, adding that he would continue to take part in prayer meetings.
SABARIMALA HEAD PRIEST AND FAMILY FILES REVIEW PETITION AGAINST SC VERDICT
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan's government and the Travancore Devasom Board - the custodian of the temple -- have ruled out filing a review petition against the apex court's order, saying that they would abide by the ruling.
The Left Democratic Front, led by the CPI-M, has also decided to launch counter-political rallies across the state, against the stand of the Congress-led opposition, the BJP and other Hindu organisations who are demanding an ordinance to be floated to counter the top court ruling.
The women's wing of the BJP, Mahila Morcha, will also stage a special prayer protest session starting on October 17 at the various entry points of the Sabarimala Temple.
Lathika Subash, President of the Kerala Mahila Congress, on Saturday pleaded with all those are trying to break the traditions of the Sabarimala, not to attempt to visit the temple.
"The Congress party has always kept out religion from politics and hence we request nothing should be done to affect the feelings of the devotees," said Ms Subash.
The Sabarimala tantri family has filed a review petition against the top court order, requesting that there should be no dilution of the traditions of the temple.
The top court will hear the petition on October 28.