South Asian Insider
Thousands protest Sabarimala order, devotees threaten suicide in Kerala
Kerala has been witnessing a series of agitations by various devotee groups and Hindu outfits against the Pinarayi Vijayan government’s decision to implement the Supreme Court order of allowing women of all ages into the temple without attempting a review petition. Ahead of the Sabarimala Temple opening next week for a monthly ritual, Shiv Sena’s Kerala unit on Saturday warned that its women activists will commit suicide if any young woman tries to enter the shrine while thousands of Lord Ayyappa devotees marched in Kochi to protest the Supreme Court verdict allowing women of all age groups into the temple. A member of the Shiv Sena Kerala unit, Peringammala Aji told ANI that their women squad will gather near the Pamba River on October 17 and 18 as part of their so-called suicide group. “Our women activists will gather near the Pamba River on October 17 and 18 as part of a suicide group. When any young woman tries to enter Sabarimala, our activists will commit suicide,” Aji said. The Shiv Sena is not the only headache for the ruling Left Front government. Gender equality Activist Trupti Desai on Saturday announced that she plans to visit the hill shrine soon. She had campaigned and the brigade have campaigned to get entry for women to religious places like Mumbai’s Haji Ali dargah the Shani Shingapur temple in Maharashtra’s Ahmednagar district. The state government, which decided to implement the ruling, held a meeting here to evaluate the preparations carried out for pilgrims arriving at the temple which will open for monthly poojas on October 17 evening. 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 into the hill shrine. Padalam royal family member, Sasikumar Varma criticised Desai and urged the social activist to refrain from making any “provocative’ move. He also asked the Left government to take steps to prevent any law and order situation. Desai, the ‘Bhumata Brigade’ leader, said in Mumbai that she along with a group of women would visit the temple “shortly” to offer prayers. “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,” she told Malayalam TV channels. “I want to ask the Congress and the BJP whether they are against the fundamental rights of women. The parties should also explain their stand on this,” Desai said. In Kochi, protesters holding placards bearing pictures of Lord Ayyappa and chanting his hymns marched through the city’s roads on Saturday after launching the stir from the famed Shiva temple there. The faithful, a large number of them women, urged both 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. The Sabarimala temple, located in Kerala’s Pathanamthitta district, is dedicated to the Hindu deity Ayyappan. The temple management considers the deity to be eternal celibate which debarred women from entering the temple.
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