October 2, 2018, saw the launch of a colossal campaign by devotees of Lord Ayyappa, particularly women, in several parts of Kerala against the historic Supreme Court order which allowed women of all age groups to enter the Sabarimala temple. In Pandalam, believed to the birthplace of Lord Ayyappa, a charged group of dissenters, over thousand-strong, took to streets to express their outcry in a march which was led by the royal family of Pandalam.
Ayyappa Dharma Samrakshana Samiti (ADSS) organized the protest along with Right to Wait campaigners, several Hindu organizations like Ayyappa Seva Samajom,Narayaneeya Samitis and family members of the Sabarimala high priest, Thanthri, to voice their dissent.
Chanting shlokas and singing songs, believers claimed that the honorable SC passed its order without taking into consideration the arguments put forth for the continuation of the age restriction and urged the SC, under the newly appointed Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, to review its Friday’s order.
The protestors asserted that the believers have the ‘first right’ over the decision of changing age-old customs and drastic changes should not be made without their consensus. In other parts of the state like Pallakad and Kochi too, agitated protectors blocked highways and demanded that the Kerala government should pass an ordinance to bypass the SC order.
In the state capital, Thiruvananthapuram, Ayyappa Bhaktharude Mahakoottayma led by activist and Thanthri family member Rahul Eashwar and former Travancore Devaswom Board president Prayar Gopalakrishnan, held a march and prayers urging for a ‘Jallikattu-like’ peoples movement to impress upon the SC, the sentiments of the devotees.
The Sabarimala temple is currently closed and will be reopened after the October 15th and the Kerala government is making security arrangements to facilitate entry of women as per SC orders.
Republic has learned that the Travancore Devaswom board and other petitioners will file an appeal against the SC order on October 8th, on the grounds that article 25 has sides cast in the verdict.
The CPIM-led Kerala government has distanced itself from the protest and appeal saying that the Devaswom board has the mandate to function independently and will decide the future course of action autonomously.