The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Kerala wrapped up its ongoing hunger strike as part of Sabarimala agitations as the hill shrine closed after two months long pilgrimage season on Sunday.
The party's Kerala president PS Sreedharan Pillai on Saturday had said the agitations were not as successful as expected. However, the party will continue protests against violating the hill shrine's contentious ban on women of menstruating age, which was overturned by the Supreme Court, said Pillai.
Despite protests by a section of devotees, the BJP, Sangh Parivar outfits, and the Congress, several women of menstruating age had entered the temple in this pilgrimageseason, the first one after the court order. The entry was partly facilitated because of the support of the ruling Communist Party of India (Marxist), CPM, which championed the entry of women on the grounds of gender justice and constitutional duty, making the hill shrine a center of action in Kerala politics.
Last week, the state told Supreme Court that 51 women in total have entered the temple, a figure it later said will be revised after finding discrepancies related to age and gender of names in the list.
The religious pilgrimage may have ended, but the stormy political season centered around the temple may still continue. Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Sunday said the Sangh Parivar-led protests were a “complete failure". In response, Pillai said the agitations were aimed to protect the faith of devotees and had earned mass support.
Meanwhile, Sabarimala Karma Samithi, a right-wing action group championing the women ban in the shrine, organized a mass gathering, called 'Nama Japa Yatra', to uphold the religious ban on women in the capital city Thiruvananthapuram on Sunday.
The move follows the CPM's show of strength on 1 January, purportedly against the ban, by creating a ‘Wall of Women’ across Kerala which claimed to have had participation of 50 lakh women.
The Karma Samithi leaders claimed to have had participation of two lakh women in their rally on Sunday, which was also attended by spiritual leader Mata Amritanandamay, former police chief TP Senkumar, among other prominent social and religious figures.
“Temples are pillars of culture and they must be protected. It is unfortunate that the temple culture, systems are not protected. This is happening because it is manned by those who do not understand temples," said Amritanandamayi, a self-styled God woman.