Hindu organisations have called for a dawn to dusk shutdown in Kerala, today, in protest against arrest of a senior woman leader of Sangh Parivar, who was on the pilgrimage to Sabarimala Lord Ayyappa temple. Hindu Aikyavedi state President KP Sasikala was arrested by police near Marakkoottam, near Sabarimala last night, when she was on her way to Sabarimala temple.
The call of shutdown was given by Sabarimala Karma Samithi and was supported by various Hindu orgaisations. The Sabarimala Karma Samithi called for state-wide shutdown from 6 am to 6 pm in protest against the arrest of Sasikala.
Viswa Hindu Parishad state president SJR Kumar alleged that Sasikala was arrested by police near Marakkoottam, near Sabarimala at 2.30 am, today. “She was arrested as she was on the way to the hill shrine carrying irumudikkettu (bundle carrying sacred offerings) to offer prayers. Some other activists have been taken into preventive custody,” he said. He accused the Kerala government of trying to destroy the Sabarimala temple.
Unprecedented security arrangements have been made at the shrine, which opened for the third time last evening, for the two-month-long pilgrimage. The 41-day mandalam festival will conclude on December 27 after Mandala pooja, when the shrine will close after the ‘Athazhapuja’ in the evening. It would reopen for the Makaravilakku festival on December 30.
The Makaravilakku festival would be celebrated on January 14 after which the shrine will close on January 20, marking the culmination of the pilgrim season, when lakhs of devotees are expected to throng the shrine. The temple complex and nearby areas had witnessed widespread protests after the state government decided to implement the September 28 apex court verdict allowing entry of girls and women in the 10-50 age group.
This is the third time the temple is opening after the court verdict, though no girl or woman in the previously banned age group could offer prayers so far following stiff resistance by devotees and activists, opposing any change in the temple traditions.