Thiruvananthapuram: Amid continuing protests on the Sabarimala issue, a temple body which manages the Lord Ayyappa shrine Sunday invited various stakeholders for a meeting to discuss ‘various aspects,’ including preparations for the annual pilgrimage season, beginning next month.
As various Hindu outfits and Lord Ayyappa devotees have been staging protests over the last few days all over Kerala against implementation of the Supreme Court order, permitting women of all age groups into the shrine, the call for talks is considered an attempt for a consensus.
The Travancore Devaswom Board has invited tantries (temple priests), Pandalam royals and devotee groups to the meeting. TDB president A Padmakumar said the meeting is scheduled to be held on 16 October at its headquarters here.
Besides the Tazhamon tantri family and the Pandalam royals, various stakeholders of the Sabarimala shrine, including Ayyappa Seva Sangam, Ayyappa Seva Samajam, tantri mahamandalam and Yoga Kshema Sabah would be invited for the talks, he said.
“TDB has no prejudice over any matter related to Sabriamala…Let them come and share their views. We will take a suitable decision on all aspects regarding the temple after that,” Padmakumar told reporters.
The members of the Padalam royal family and tazhamon tantries later said a collective decision would be taken soon on whether to attend the TDB meet or not. The three-month-long annual ‘Mandalam-Makaravilakku‘ pilgrimage season of the Sabarimala Temple will begin on 17 November.
Meanwhile, various devotee groups and Hindu outfits took out protest marches in different places across the state, demanding that the sanctity of the temple rituals be protected. The BJP-led NDA’s ‘Long March’, which started last week from Pandalam in protest against the CPI(M)-led LDF government’s decision to implement the top court order without going for a review, reached the capital city Sunday.
Actor-turned-MP Suresh Gopi flagged off the rally here at Alamkode. “Each BJP worker will fight till his final drop of blood is shed to protect the sanctity of the centuries old tradition of Sabarimala” party state president P S Sreedharan Pillai said addressing the rally.
The march, which criss-crossed the southern districts of the state, would conclude before the state Secretariat, the administrative hub here, Monday Hundreds of activists of Antarashtriya Hindu Parishad (AHP) also took out a rally here, urging the state and union governments to address the concerns of devotees of Lord Ayyappa.
AHP president Pravin Togadia called for a hartal in the state on 18 October if the Left government implements the apex court order. “We demand that the state government file a review petition in the Supreme Court. Till that petition is pending, they should not implement the court order,” he said addressing the rally.
If the state fails to do so, the AHP would announce a hartal in Kerala on 17 October 10 pm to 18 October he said. Warning that AHP would expand the agitation to other parts of the country, Togadia demanded that the Centre come out with an ordinance to overcome the apex court order.
A group of Yuva Morcha activists took out a march to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s residence at northern Kannur district. Police blocked the agitators by putting up barricades a few kilometers away from the residence.
On 28 September, a five-judge Constitution bench, headed by then chief justice Dipak Misra, lifted the ban on the entry of women of menstrual age into the shrine.