India

Ahead of Sabarimala temple opening next week, women activists threaten mass suicide

Lord Ayyappa devotees marched in Kochi to protest the Supreme Court verdict allowing women of all age groups into the temple.

The Supreme Court bench headed by CJI Dipak Misra on September 28 pronounced that women of all ages will be allowed entry into Lord Ayyappa’s Sabarimala temple in Kerala. The top court allowed women to access the iconic shrine saying that the current ban violated Articles 14 and 25 of the Constitution.

Ahead of the Sabarimala Temple opening next week for a monthly ritual, the state government, which decided to implement the ruling, held a meeting to evaluate the preparations carried out for pilgrims arriving at the temple which will open for monthly poojas on October 16.

Melsanthi (head priest) N. Balamurali will open the sanctum sanctorum at 5.30 p.m. on October 16. The five-day ritual will begin on October 17 morning.

Mass suicide

Shiv Sena’s Kerala unit on Saturday warned that its women activists will commit mass 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.

Devotees believe that the entry of “women of menstruating age” is a disrespect towards God.

“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 ANI.

The outfit’s warning came even as Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said that his government would follow the top court’s order. Meanwhile, the erstwhile royal family of Pandalam has demanded that the state government file a review petition or ask the Travancore Devaswom Board to file it.

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.

Read: From decriminalising homosexuality to Sabarimala verdict: A look back at SC’s game-changing decisions

‘Don’t complain if you are molested’

Former Devaswom Board President Prayar Gopalakrishnan said that allowing women of all ages into Sabarimala is going to “turn it into Thailand.”

Alluding that the women devotees cannot complain if they are harassed or abused by men during the pilgrimage, he said, “I won’t tell any sister to not enter Sabarimala. Whoever wants to come are welcome. But if you come you can get caught by a tiger or man.”

“If young women are allowed to enter Sabarimala, I will not be ready to enter Thailand (according to him, Sabarimala will turn into Thailand if women are allowed). The aura or power of Lord Ayyappa will be diminished,” he said.

‘Women who enter the temple should be ripped apart’

Gopalakrishnan is not only the one who has criticised the SC verdict. Last week, Malayali actor Kollam Thulasi said, “Women should be ripped apart; one half should be sent to Delhi and another to the Kerala chief minister.”

He even went to the extent of saying that the four judges who delivered the judgment on Sabarimala are idiots.

“The mothers (elderly woman) taking part in the protest against the judgment should go to Sabarimala. Then those women should rip apart the ones who try to enter the temple,” he said. He has now been booked for his remarks.

Thulasi is a member of the BJP and was their candidate during the 2015 polls.

Trupti Desai to visit the shrine

Gender equality Activist Trupti Desai on Saturday announced that she plans to visit the hill shrine soon. She and her brigade had campaigneid to get entry for women to religious places like Mumbai’s Haji Ali dargah the Shani Shingapur temple in Maharashtra’s Ahmednagar district.

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.

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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