A group of 30 women, all under the age of 50, will attempt to enter Kerala's Sabarimala temple on December 23. The women, the youngest being in her 20s, are from Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Karnataka and Kerala. They will observe the fast and all rituals for five days before heading for darshan.
"Till now several women have attempted to reach the Sabarimala temple, but have been unsuccessful. They were doing things alone, but we plan to move together as a group. We have written to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan asking for police protection. We have also received a response from his office informing us that our request has been forwarded to police," Chennai-based Selvy, who heads Manithi, a women's rights forum, told NDTV.
Ammanni, who is from Wayanad and part of the Adivasi Women's Forum, told NDTV, "For now, we are not making any names public. But we cannot reach Sabarimala without the support of the police. We hope that police will make all arrangements for women who are coming from across India."
The Supreme Court order had in September overturned the ban on women of menstruating age entering the temple of Lord Ayyappa. The historic verdict triggered protests in and around Sabarimala amid claims by devotees, including women, that the court has not considered sentiment and tradition and how it should not interfere in matters of faith.
Despite protests that turned often violent, over a dozen women tried to enter the temple, but none could make it to the shrine as they were blocked, heckled and sent back by protesters who had stationed themselves inside the temple as devotees. One woman in her 50s even suffered a panic attack as protesters heckled her. Two other young women who came as close as 200 metres from the main temple zone also had to return after the chief priest threatened to shut the temple and stop rituals.
The Left Democratic Front (LDF) government claims it has been trying to implement the top court's order but the Congress and the BJP have been creating hurdles.
Meanwhile, BJP leaders have been on an indefinite fast in front of the secretariat building since December 3, demanding the withdrawal of prohibitory orders and various cases registered against party general secretary K Surendran and several party workers over the Sabarimala protests.