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‘Save Sabarimala’ march, mega protests rock Kerala ahead of temple opening

Besides BJP, the opposition Congress was also against the government’s decision not to go for review and extended support to the devotee’s stir.

SNS | Thiruvanathapuram |

Thousands of Ayyappa devotees, including women are carrying out a protest march in Thiruvananthapuram against the Supreme Court’s verdict allowing entry of women of all age groups into the Sabarimala temple.

Amid protests, the temple is set to open its portals for monthly rituals on October 17 evening.

The protest which is being led by the BJP, saw devotees marching through busy roads raising slogans and holding placards with ‘Save Sabarimala’ written on them.

Security has been tightened in various places in view of a possible disruption to law and order in the state.

The BJP-led NDA’s ‘Long March’, which started last week from Pandalam reached Thiruvananthapuram on Sunday.

Meanwhile, in a bid to sort out the issue amicably, the Travancore Dewasom Board has called for a meeting on Tuesday with Sabarimala head priest, Pandalam royal family and Ayyappa Sewa Sangh.

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 apex court order without going for any review petition.

Besides BJP, the opposition Congress was also against the government’s decision not to go for review and extended support to the devotee’s stir.

The Supreme Court, last month, had struck down a rule that disallowed girls and women in the age group of 10-50 years from entering the Sabarimala temple in Kerala.

The apex court had said in its order that the rule violated women’s right to equality and worship.

Activist Trupti Desai had announced plans to visit the hill shrine soon.

Although the government has not reacted to Desai’s planned trip to the temple yet, it has evoked sharp reactions from Ayyappa devotees and the BJP.

Activist Rahul Easwar, who already announced hunger strike at Sabarimala during the five-day monthly pooja period, said they would stop Trupti Desai if she attempts to visit the Lord Ayyappa Temple.

Earlier on Saturday, Ayyappa devotees from Mumbai, Thane and Navi Mumbai held a protest at Azad Maidan demanding that the Kerala government issue an ordinance to protect age-old rituals of Sabarimala Temple.

(With agency inputs)