Thiruvananthapuram: Thousands of people lined up along the 765-km stretch between Kasaragod and Thiruvananthapuram to attend the Ayyappa Jyothi organised by the Sabarimala Karma Samithi to protect the traditions and customs at Sabarimala from 6 p.m. to 6.30 p.m. on Wednesday. The event was held from Sree Dharma Sastha Temple at Hosangadi in Kasaragod to Kaliyyikkavila in Kanyakumari district of Tamil Nadu to counter the women's wall programme planned by the LDF government on New Year’s day.
The samithi had objected to the Supreme Court verdict allowing young women to enter Sabarimala and the hasty manner in which the LDF government tried to implement it. BJP state president P. S. Sreedharan Pillai lighted the Ayyappa Jyothi at the protest pandal in front of the secretariat, where general secretary Sobha Surendran is observing an indefinite fast.
Mr Pillai claimed that the jyothi was a huge success and said the women’s wall will crack up.
“The LDF government cannot mobilise lakhs of people like our Ayyappa Jyothi. The government may cover the gaps by bringing in men,” he said.
Ms Sobha Surendran also came out of the pandal and stood with the protestors along with BJP MLA O. Rajagopal, who read out a message. The protest was held on the NH till Angamaly and also on the MC Road. The priest of Sree Dharma Sastha Temple of Hosangadi lit the jyothi from the Sreekovil and transferred it to Swami Yogananda Saraswathi and Kapilashram Uttarakashi Ramachandra Swami.
In Tamil Nadu, 38 centres witnessed Ayyappa Jyothi which stretched up to Vivekananda Rock Memorial. The Karma Samithi claimed that over 10 lakh people participated in the event across the state, which was jointly supported by the BJP, RSS and NSS. NSS general secretary Sukumaran Nair watched the lighting of the jyothi in front of NSS headquarters at Perunna, where he offered floral tributes at the NSS founder's tomb. He was accompanied by all the director board members of the NSS. But they remained inside the headquarters where Mr Nair could be seen talking on his mobile phone. Every day, it is Mr Nair who lights the lamp before the Mannam samadhi.
Former Travancore Devaswom Board president G. Raman Nair led the jyothi at Perunna when Mr Nair lighted the lamp before the samadhi. Prominent people who participated in the event included former DGP T. P. Senkumar at Kilimanoor in Thiruvananthapuram, former Public Service Commission chairman K. S. Radhakrishnan at Angamaly in Ernakulam district and Suresh Gopi in Kaliyikkavila, Tamil Nadu. Others included Advaithashramam head, Swami Chidananda Puri of Kolathur in Kozhikode, former prison DGP M. G. A. Raman, writer Madambu Kunjikuttan and member of the erstwhile Pandalam royal family, P. G. Sasikumara Varma. The jyothi was lit at Sabarimala by the organisers of the samithi. Hindu Aikya Vedhi president K. P. Sasikala took part in the programme in Thrissur.
The samithi claimed that over two lakh people attended the protest in Kozhikode alone. Women and men started assembling from 5 p.m. onwards across the state and in parts of the border areas in Tamil Nadu. Former BJP state president P. K. Krishnadas and RSS state working committee member Valsan Thillankeri, who had courted controversy at Sabarimala when he entered the 18 floors without the Irumudikettu, took part in the programme at Muthalakulam grounds, Kozhikode.
Earlier, Mr Senkumar said in a television interview that the jyothi was being organised to remove darkness and bring in light.
“What is wrong if I take part in it? The government should have focussed on flood relief measures instead of organising the women protest wall,” he said.
“Those who are raising allegations against me had tried to trap me in fake cases and failed,” he said. “I will decide in which programme I should participate as I have the constitutional right to do so. Some people like it and some don’t. The LDF Government can provide relief to the flood-affected people if they take half the effort needed for raising the women’s wall,” he added.