Trupti Desai, the woman who helmed the ’Right to Pray’ movement in Maharashtra, which supported entry of women of all ages into Sabarimala, said that she will be visiting the temple on the November 17, a day after the shrine opens for the Mandala-Makaravilakku season. Sabarimala temple will be opened for a period of two months during the Mandala-Makaravilakku season from November 16 to January 20.
Speaking to TNM, Trupti confirmed that seven ladies of the ‘Bhoomata Brigade’ including herself will be visiting the temple to offer their prayers to Lord Ayyappa. “For equality, we are definitely going to come there and we will offer prayers on November 17. If the SC has given us the right to pray, who are they (protestors) to stop us?
The Bhoomata Brigade’s visit comes at crucial stage in the Sabarimala issue as the Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to hear the 49 review petitions in open court on January 22. While the apex court clearly stated that there is no stay in its September judgement, the BJP and Congress in Kerala have urged the state government to ensure that women are not allowed into the temple until the matter is heard in January.
“As far as we are concerned the final verdict has been delivered on September 28 - which allows women of all ages to enter the temple. Now review petitions have been filed on this verdict and devotees want their beliefs to be heard by the bench. When the bench decides the verdict on the review petitions, they will give it. But right now, the SC has allowed women to enter the temple. They have not stayed the previous verdict,” she said.
Trupti also stated that she will fold her hands and request all the protests to let the Bhoomata Brigade visit the temple.
“There are a large number of protestors who threatened to cut me into tiny pieces if I attempted to enter the temple. They said that I will not go back alive to Maharashtra. These cannot be real Ayyappa devotees. But let them issue threats, we will go anyway,” she said.
Stating that it would be contempt of court to not follow the SC’s orders, Trupti added that she fully trusted the Kerala government to provide them with protection, and noted it is the government’s responsibility to do. She has also written to the Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan seeking protection during the group’s visit.
“I don’t believe that the government would take a decision to not provide protection for women entering the temple. The SC has not stayed the previous verdict which lifted the ban. Not implementing the verdict would amount to contempt of court, and contempt against women. So if women come, government has to allow them to go,” she said.
Following the Supreme Court’s order on Tuesday, the BJP and Congress in Kerala asked the LDF government to maintain the ban on women entry until the final verdict comes.
Speaking to media, State Congress chief Ramesh Chennithala said “Even if there is no stay, the government should stop being stubborn by bringing women to Sabarimala. The Constitutional Bench has said they will hear the review petitions. This is good news. In the upcoming season, there should be no conflict situation and we hope the government will take a decision accordingly. Even if there is no stay, the fact that they have decided to review the judgement is important.
State BJP Chief PS Sreedharan Pillai also asked the government to quit being stubborn about letting women into Sabarimala.
“Since the Supreme Court is agreeing to hear the review petitions in open court, it is equivalent to a re-examination of the verdict. Recently, the government said that they will protect the beliefs of all the devotees. Majority of Kerala devotees wish that the traditions followed in Sabarimala are protected and this is as clear as daylight. So why does (the government) need to be stubborn? Let’s just wait for the final verdict.”
The Kerala government has decided to hold an all-party meeting on Thursday, to discuss further course of action on the entry one women into the temple during this Mandala - Makaravilakku season.
(With inputs from Sanyukta Dharmadhikari)