KOCHI — Activist Trupti Desai has reached the International Airport in the early hours of Friday to visit the Sabarimala temple but she could not come out of the domestic terminal following protest by devotees opposing the entry of women of menstruating age into the Lord Ayyappa temple.
Tension prevailed at the airport as protesters announced that Desai and her colleagues, who reached here at around 4:40 am from Pune, would not be allowed to go out of the airport.
The temple opens Friday evening, for the third time since the apex court verdict on September 28 allowed women of all age group to offer prayers at the hilltop Lord Ayyappa temple though none could do so following stiff resistance from devotees and activists, opposing any change in the temple traditions.
Protesting local BJP leaders at the airport said the devotees would not let Desai and her colleagues, reportedly total six in numbers, to come out of the airport and proceed to Sabarimala temple.
They alleged that Desai and her team came here to violate the centuries--old custom of the temple that prevents entry of women and girls in the age group of 10 and 50.
"She (Desai) came here not for darshan but for disturbing a peaceful Sabarimala pilgrim season beginning Saturday," they said.
The Ayyappa devotees comprising women and BJP workers, assembled in large numbers outside the airport, continued their protest chanting Ayyappa mantra.
Police in large numbers have reached the airport to control the situation. Police officers held discussions with Desai and protesters but both sides stick to their stand.
Talking to media over phone, Desai said she would not go back to Maharashtra without a darshan at the Lord Ayyappa temple.
Taxi drivers at the airport said they would not take Desai and her colleagues outside the airport.
Police in large numbers were present in the domestic terminal of the airport to deal with the situation.
The Lord Ayyappa shrine will re-open for the two-month-long Madala-Makkarvilakku puja on Saturday.
Desai, who spearheaded the campaign for women to be allowed into various religious places, including Shani Shingnapur temple, the Haji Ali Dargah, the Mahalakshmi Temple and the Trimbakeshwar Shiva Temple, had sent an email to Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan seeking security as she fears an attack on her life during her visit to the hill shrine.
"We will not return to Maharashtra without darshan at the Sabarimala temple.We have faith in the government that it will provide security for us," she had said