Kerala: Thousands of devotees take part in ‘Ayyappa Jyothi’

Women in Thiruvanathapuram hold oil lamps to protest against the entry of women of all age groups at Sabarimala temple, on Wednesday. (AP)

Thousands of people on Wednesday lit 'Ayyappa Jyothis' across the state to protect the century-old traditions of the Sabarimala temple amid reports of attack on women participants from some parts of the state.

The event, organised under the aegis of the Sabarimala Action Council (SAC) - an umbrella outfit for various Hindu organisations fighting against the entry of women of all ages to the hill shrine - was backed by the BJP and was held to counter the Women's Wall planned by the state government.

Claiming that 21 lakh devotees took part in the event in Kerala, SAC convener and VHP leader S J R Kumar alleged that women participants were attacked in many parts of north Kerala by CPM men. As many as 31 people, including 10 women, were reportedly injured in various incidents in Kannur and Kasaragod. Kumar said that the CPM was worried over the participation of women in the event in their strongholds.

The lamps were lit along the national highway, at a gap of one kilometre, from Kasaragode district in the north to Thiruvananthapuram district in the south. Apart from Kerala, the jyothi was lit in 11 other states too.

Several leaders from the BJP, RSS and various Hindu organisations, like Nair Service Society, took part in the programme. BJP state president P S Sreedharan Pillai said the Ayyappa Jyothi would force the state government to change its stand on Sabarimala.