Women’s rights activist Trupti Desai has announced that she will visit Kerala with six women on November 17 and attempt to enter the Sabarimala temple, The Indian Express reported on Thursday. The announcement came days after the Supreme Court refused to stay its September 28 order allowing women of all ages to enter the shrine. Before this, women of menstruating age were not permitted to enter the shrine.
“Our seven-member team will be taking a flight to Sabarimala on November 16,” Desai was quoted as saying. “We will land there on November 17….we will not leave Kerala till we are allowed to offer worship.”
Women were prevented from entering the temple on the two occasions it has opened to devotees since the order. The shrine is set to reopen for the Mandala pooja Mahotsavam on Friday and will close on December 27. The state Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party have condemned the Supreme Court order, while the ruling Left Democratic Front government has attempted to implement the ruling amid protests.
Desai has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and the state’s director general of police, seeking protection. “After the Supreme Court ruling, I have received more than 300 numbers of threats on my Facebook account,” she claimed. “The messages threaten to murder me, cut me into pieces if I land in Kerala. I have been addressed in dirty, unprintable language.” She has also asked the state government to bear the expenses of her team’s stay in Kerala.
“This was not a fight against any religion or against devotees,” Desai said. “We also have no intention to hurt sentiments of the devotees. On the contrary, we too are the devotees of God. Despite the Supreme Court ruling, we are still unable to worship our God by entering into the temple and that too under police protection which has severely hurt our sentiments.”
The activist – who has led similar protests demanding that women be allowed to enter the Shani Shignapur temple in Ahmednagar, Kolhapur’s Mahalakshmi temple, and the Shiva temple near Nashik – said the group would enter Sabarimala with “with folded hands” and with Gandhian principles in mind. “If any violence or untoward incident occurs, it will be the responsibility of the Kerala government,” she added.
Hindutva activist Rahul Easwar, who has been at the forefront of protests against women’s entry into the temple, cautioned Desai against visiting the state. “Trupti Desai may be known for her activism, but we are known for our passion and devotion towards Ayyappa,” Easwar told India Today. “We request mercy of Trupti. Will she be so cruel to go ahead by stamping on the chests of hundreds of devotees?”