We will stand firmly with Ayyappa devotees: NSS chief

Kottayam: The Nair Service Society (NSS), an outfit of Kerala’s influential Nair community, Wednesday said it stood firmly with the devotees opposing entry of women in the menstrual age group into the Lord Ayyappa temple at Sabarimala.

NSS, which has filed a petition seeking review of the Supreme Court verdict over women’s entry, held protests with its members chanting Ayyappa mantra across the state to mark its Flag Day.

NSS General Secretary G Sukumaran Nair said the outfit would organisenamapjapa yajna‘ (chanting of Ayyappa mantra) on 13 November, the day the Supreme Court will consider the review petitions filed against its order lifting the age-old ban on entry of women in the age group of 10-50 into the hill temple.

He expressed hope that the apex court would take a decision to alleviate concerns of the devotees of Lord Ayyappa when it considers the review petitions. Nair said in Changanassery that NSS would discuss with other organisations and arrive at a decision, if the court decision was not favourable to them.

Leaders of various rightwing Hindu outfits will meet here Thursday to discuss the plan for the second phase of agitation against the Supreme Court verdict. Organisers said leaders of VHP, Hindu Aikyavedi and Ayyappa devotee organisations and spiritual leaders will meet under the banner of “Sabarimala Karma Samiti.”

G Sukumaran Nair

Kerala had witnessed widespread protests by devotees after the state government made it clear that it was bound to implement the top court’s verdict on entry of women of all ages into the hill shrine.

Meanwhile, BJP Wednesday criticised the state government’s decision to provide online registration facility for Ayyappa darshan, saying it was being done to collect the personal details of devotees who wanted to visit the shrine.

The government was treating devotees as criminals, BJP state general secretary A N Radhakrishnan alleged. The BJP had announced it would take out a ‘Rath Yatra’ from Kasaragod to Pathnamthitta, where the Sabarimala temple is located from 8 to 13 November to “save the customs and traditions” of the hill shrine.

The temple had witnessed high drama after around a dozen women in the 10-50 age group were prevented by protesting devotees from entering it after the temple doors were opened for monthly pujas between 17 and 22 October.