On Wednesday, thousands of people, including a large number of women, were seen lighting lamps along several stretches that connected north and south Kerala, in an apparent political message to the Kerala government. The Sabarimala Karma Samithi, backed by the BJP, organised Ayyappa Jyothi, an event to counter the Kerala government's Women's Wall, which is an attempt to raise awareness about the LDF government’s stand on the Sabarimala case and to counter the Sangh Parivar’s protests against women entry to the shrine.
At the event, Ayyappa devotees and volunteers under various Hindu organisations lit thousands of lamps, forming a chain that stretched from district to district. The lamps were lit up on the waysides, from Manjeswaram in Kasargode to Kaliyakavilai in Kanyakumari district in the Kerala- TN border - the same route where the state government’s proposed Vanitha Mathil (Women’s Wall) will take place on January 1.
In addition to the RSS and the Sangh Parivar, the prominent caste organisation, Nair Service Society, which represents the dominant Nair caste in the state, also took part in the Ayyappa Jyoti event. Earlier, the NSS had remarked that the Women's Wall was a communal wall.
The event was also held at 69 centres in the neighbouring district of Tamil Nadu.
Former DGP TP Senkumar and former Chairman of the Kerala State Public Service Commission KS Radhakrishnan were among those who took part in the event.
In Thiruvananthapuram, BJP State President PS Sreedharan Pillai and leader Sobha Surendran lit the lamp in front of the Secretariat in Thiruvananthapuram, along with BJP leader O Rajagopal, the lone MLA of the party in the state. Senkumar took part in the event at Attingal in the district. In Changanassery, the lamps were lit in front of the NSS headquarters.
The event began from the Sree Dharam Sastha temple of Hosankadi in Kasargode. From Kasargode till Angamaly in Ernakulam, the lamps were lit along the National Highway, and from there, it continued to the MC road in Thiruvananthapuram.
Incidents of violence were reported from Kannur, where volunteers, who were a part of the Ayyappa Jyoti, were reportedly attacked.
The Ayyappa Jyoti event is a counter-response to the proposed Women's Wall, organised in a big way by the Kerala government to gain support for its stand on implementing the Supreme Court verdict on allowing women of all ages into the Sabarimala shrine. According to the organisers of Ayyappa Jyoti, this event was organised to 'protect the customs' of the shrine.
The Karma Samithi, along with other right-wing organisations, have been organising statewide protests against the entry of women of menstruating ages to the shrine ever since the SC verdict came on September 28. The government at the same time has been firm that the verdict should be implemented, and if not, it would be taking forward the renaissance movement.