Following the agitation against the entry of women of menstrual age into the famous Sabarimala Temple, several Hindu outfits in Kerala have urged media outlets not to depute women journalists to cover the issue as the Lord Ayyappa temple is set to open on Monday for a special puja.
The 'appeal' was issued by Sabarimala Karma Samiti, a joint platform of right-wing outfits, including the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) and the Hindu Aikyavedi, ahead of the temple's brief opening, which will be the second time after the Supreme Court allowed the entry of girls and women in the age group of 10-50 into it.
The Samiti has been spearheading the agitation against the apex court order lifting an age-old ban on entry of women in menstrual age group into the temple, whose deity Lord Ayyappa is a celibate.
When the temple opened for a monthly puja for five days last month, the first time after the court order, women reporters, on their way to cover the occasion, were heckled, their vehicles attacked and young female devotees forced to turn back as protesters, including activists of Hindu fringe groups, laid a siege to the road leading to Sabarimala.
In its letter to editors, a copy of which was released to the media, the Samiti said that even the entry of women journalists belonging to this age group as part of their job was likely to aggravate the situation.
"Recognising your right to support or oppose the devotees stand on this issue, we hope you will not take a stand which would aggravate the situation," it said.
The doors of the temple will be opened on Monday evening for puja on the occasion of "Chithira Aattavisesham" on Tuesday, the birthday of the last King of Travancore, Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma.
The temple will be closed at 10 pm on Tuesday but would reopen for darshan from November 17 for the three-month-long annual pilgrim season.
The Samiti said that devotees belonging to all denominations in Kerala and other parts of the country and even abroad were on a path of 'unabated' agitation subsequent to the apex court judgement allowing entry to young women at the Sabarimala Temple against the wish of the large majority of devotees.
It alleged that even though the Supreme Court has decided to hear the review and writ petitions on the issue on November 13, the state government was intentionally ignoring the "mass movement" against the judgment and was trying to 'hastily' enforce it using police forces.
"In such a situation, the devotees are left with no other choice but to continue with the peaceful agitation," it said.
The whole issue is about the adamant stand of the state government in forcibly bringing in young women aged between 10 and 50 years which is against the age-old traditions and customs of the Sabarimala Temple, the Samiti said.