Hundreds of protestors held a rally in Kerala’s Ernakulam on Saturday to protest against the Supreme Court order allowing women of all ages to enter the Sabarimala temple, reported Hindustan Times. The temple is set to open for monthly rituals on Wednesday.
The Left Democratic Front government, which has decided to implement the court ruling, held a meeting on Saturday to evaluate the preparations ahead of the arrival of pilgrims at the temple.
Women’s rights activist Trupti Desai has announced plans to visit the hill shrine with a group of women when it opens this month, according to PTI. Desai said the ongoing agitation by the devotees is a violation of the Supreme Court verdict. “I want to ask the Congress and BJP [Bharatiya Janata Party] whether they are against the fundamental rights of women,” she said.
Though the state government has not responded to Desai’s plans to visit the temple, Ayyappa devotees and the Bharatiya Janata Party, which is campaigning against the entry of women, have criticised Desai’s move.
Sasikumar Varma, a member of the Padalam royal family, criticised Desai and urged social activists to refrain from making any “provocative” move.
BJP state president PS Sreedharan Pillai called it a “dangerous approach”, reported The Indian Express. “I do not know whether she is a devotee or not. But she is coming to add fuel to the fire,” Pillai said. “It is up to the faithful to prevent Desai from going to the temple. If the faithful come out to prevent Desai, BJP will support them. She should desist from visiting the shrine.”
On Sunday, members of the Akhil Hindu Parishad staged a protest march in Thiruvananthapuram demanding an ordinance in the state Assembly against the top court’s verdict, ANI reported.
Activist Rahul Easwar, who announced a hunger strike at Sabarimala, said he would stop Desai if she attempts to visit the temple. “Hundreds of devotees will lie down on the roads leading to Sabarimala if Trupti Desai attempts to visit the shrine,” he said.
Shiv Sena’s Thiruvananthapuram district secretary Peringamala Aji threatened mass immolation if women try to break the traditions of the temple. “Our women workers are ready to die,” he said, according to Hindustan Times. “The Kerala government and Travancore Devasom Board are playing with fire.”
The National Ayyappa Devotees Association and the Nair Service Society have filed review petitions in the Supreme Court against its order. The opposition Congress and BJP have accused the Left government of showing “undue haste” in implementing the order.