As noted Kerala writer KP Ramanunni walked into the Sri Krishna temple in Kannur's Chirakkal on Thursday morning, right wing activists thronged the temple to block him.
With chants of 'hare rama, hare krishna' on their lips, the activists blocked Ramanunni, demanding that he go should back.
The award-winning writer was there to perform a 'penance' at the temple, by performing a ritual called shayana pradakshinam (rolling on the temple floor). This, he said, was a penance for the rape and murder of an 8-year-old girl in Kathua, and a response to extremist Hindutva forces trying to corrupt the religion.
Protesters including members of Yuva Morcha argued that Ramanaunni be prevented from using a temple to mark his protest. However, the author partly performed the ritual, even as the Kannur police tried to keep the protesters under control. After taking a bath in the temple pond, as is the custom, Ramanunni proceeded to carry out the ritual.
After leaving the temple, Ramanunni told TNM that his action was not a protest, but a prayer, against people maligning his religion.
"My action was against people who maligned the sanctity of temple by using it for a horrifying crime in Kathua. Why should organisations like Yuva Morcha and Hindu Aikyavedi feel threatened about it? Are they saying they want to protect the criminals? As Hindus, we must realise and be cautious about forces who want to malign the religion" Ramanunni asked.
Ramanunni performed the ritual that was organised by Kerala Samskritha Sangham (KSS).
While the protesters claimed that Ramanunni was using the temple for political reasons, the writer maintained that it was the right wing activists who were doing so.
"I did not protest at the temple, I did not raise any slogans, my action was not against anyone. It is a social act that I carried out for the sake of believers. If these activists truly want their religion to be regarded well, they should not be supporting the criminals. Why did these right wing groups had to own it up and turn up to protest my action? My act was not against any of them," Ramanunni said.
Earlier in February, Ramanunni was in the news after he donated award prize money to the family of Junaid, the teen who was killed on a train in Haryana by an angry mob.
He had then said that his act was to spread the message of religious harmony.