The Sabarimala temple is set to open for a two-month pilgrimage on Friday, for the third time after the Supreme Court overturned centuries-old tradition to allow women of all age entry into the hilltop shrine.
An all-party meeting headed by Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Thursday failed to arrive at a consensus as opposition parties in the state- Congress-led UDF and BJP- staged a ‘walkout’ terming the meeting a “drama”. The meeting was held two days after the Supreme Court, on November 13, refused to stay its September 28 order and fixed the date for hearing review petitions on January 22. There are over 48 petitions seeking a review of the order in the Supreme Court.
Trupti Desai, a social activist announced that she will lead a group of women to the hilltop shrine on November 17 and had approached the police for protection.
Desai said the Kerala CM and DGP would be responsible if they were attacked. However, upon her arrival at Cochin airport this morning, she has been unable to leave the airport given the swelling number of protesters gathered outside.
Women of menstrual age were barred from entering the Sabarimala shrine as the presiding deity Lord Ayyappa is considered a celibate. The Supreme Court had, on September 28, overturned the ban in a 4-1 verdict, triggering protests by Hindu groups who refused to abide by the ruling.
While the state government has said it would not dilute the SC ruling and enforce its implementation, right-wing Hindu outfits, Congress, and the BJP have opposed the verdict.
The Sabarimala temple has opened twice since the September verdict, but no woman has been successful in entering the shrine, amid protests by Ayyappa devotees who demand that restrictions on the entry of women of menstrual age (10-50) in the temple be maintained.
Kerala now braces for fresh protests after an all-party meeting called ahead of the temple’s opening for the two-month pilgrim season ended in a stalemate Thursday.
At the meeting, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan rejected the Opposition suggestion that the government seek time from the Supreme Court to implement its order since a clutch of review petitions are to come up for hearing before the top court on January 22.