Kasaragod/Thiruvananthapuram: Thousands of people lit "Ayyappa Jyothis" (lamps) across Kerala from the northern Kasaragod district to the state capital down south Wednesday evening, vowing to protect the rituals and traditions of the famous hill shrine of Lord Ayyappa at Sabarimala.
Ayyappa devotees, including women and children and people from various walks of life, including former DGP T P Senkumar, actor and BJP MP Suresh Gopi, participated in the event, organised by the Sabarimala Karma Samithi, a joint platform of Right wing outfits and the BJP, opposing entry of women in 10-50 age group into the temple.
People from Hosangadi in Kasaragod to Triveni in neighbouring Kanyakumari, covering a distance of about 765 km, lit the "diyas" and chanted ayyappa prayers from 6 pm to 6-30 pm.
The jyothis were also lit in front of the Secretariat in the state capital where BJP state president, P S Sreedharan Pillai, MLA O Rajagopal and BJP general secretary Shobha Surendran, were among those who participated.
Sporadic incidents of violence were also reported from Kannur. RSS leaders alleged that vehicles of devotees who came to participate in the Ayyappa Jyothi were attacked by CPM workers.An elderly woman participant said "We lit the Ayyappa Jyothi against the entry of young women at the Sabarimala temple". The Sabarimala Karma Samithi said that it would observe a protest day on Thursday.
The Samithi, while announcing the 'joythi' programme, had said eight lakh women would participate.
BJP, its various outfits, Nair Service Society (NSS) and the Pandalam Royal family, associated with the temple, have supported it.
The decision to light the "wall of lamps" was aimed at countering the CPM-led LDF government's proposal for a 'Womens Wall' across the state on Januaury 1.
It was to protect renaissance values and garner support for the government's decision to implement the Supreme Court verdict allowing women of all age groups to offer prayers at the hill shrine of Lord Ayyappa.
The Sabarimala shrine had witnessed protests over the government's decision to implement the Supreme court verdict allowing women of menstrual age to offer prayers.
So far no women in the 'traditionally barred' age group of 10-50 years has succeeded in offering prayers at the shrine, since the September 28 apex court verdict.
Over 20 young women had unsuccessfully tried to reach the hill shrine and offer prayers, but had to return following protests by devotees.
(With inputs from PTI)