A former president of the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB), which administers the Sabarimala temple, on Thursday announced a campaign akin to last year’s pro-Jallikattu stir to “protect” the shrine’s custom of barring entry of women.

“We will conduct prayers in all temples throughout the state to sensitise devotees (about the shrine’s custom). It is a peaceful protest. No only Hindus, leaders of many other religions also promised support the dive,” Prayar Gopalakrishnan who is also a Congress leader said, adding that the campaign would officially be launched on July 31.

In 2017, many people took to the streets across Tamil Nadu a to protest against the Supreme Court’s order to ban Jallikattu, a traditional bull taming sport.

Gopalakrishnan said the majority of women in the state were against the proposal to change temple rituals and saw the controversy around the issue as a move to defame the shrine.

“Different deities have different rituals. In Attukal Devi temple in Thiruvananthapuram men are not allowed to do annual ‘pongala’ offering. And in Malayinkeezhu Sree Krishna temple women are not allowed during a particular time. We have to respect such customs,” he said adding that basis of the practice was the celibate nature of the temple deity, not misogyny.

The Supreme Court has taken up a PIL filed by the Indian Young Lawyers’ Association challenging the temple’s “discriminatory” practice.

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