Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - - HTNATION -

Hold­ing plac­ards bear­ing pic­tures of Lord Ayyappa and chant­ing hymns, pro­test­ers marched through the busy roads of Kochi, the state’s com­mer­cial hub, af­ter launch­ing the stir from a Shiva tem­ple there. The faith­ful, a large num­ber of them women, urged the Cen­tral and state gov­ern­ments to in­ter­vene in the mat­ter to pro­tect the sanc­tity of the cen­turies-old rit­u­als and tra­di­tions of the shrine.

Mean­while, the march led by Bjp-headed Na­tional Demo­cratic Al­liance reached Kol­lam dis­trict on Satur­day. BJP state pres­i­dent, PS Sreed­ha­ran Pil­lai, who led the rally, said De­sai was vis­it­ing Sabari­mala as she per­ceived it to be a chal­lenge rather than a pil­grim­age.

“It is a dan­ger­ous ap­proach. She should de­sist from vis­it­ing the shrine and should not make Sabari­mala a ten­sion zone. I do not know if she is a devo­tee or not. But she is com­ing to add fuel to the fire,” Pil­lai said.

Claim­ing that the NDA rally was get­ting tremen­dous sup­port from all sec­tions of peo­ple, the leader said the march would reach Thiruvananthapuram on Oc­to­ber 15.

Mean­while, Shiv Sena’s Thiruvananthapuram dis­trict sec­re­tary Peringa­mala Aji threat­ened mass im­mo­la­tion if women try to break the age-old tra­di­tion of the tem­ple. “Our women work­ers are ready to die. We can’t di­gest such an in­sult. The Ker­ala govern­ment and Tra­van­core Deva­som Board are play­ing with fire,” he said. Though Shiv Sena has lit­tle fol­low­ing in the state the party has been tak­ing a bel­liger­ent stand on Sabaria­mala is­sue since the ver­dict.

Ac­tivist Rahul Easwar, who an­nounced a hunger strike at Sabari­mala dur­ing the five-day monthly pooja pe­riod, said they will stop Trupti De­sai if she at­tempts to visit the tem­ple.

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