Nilakkal: Around 350 devotees from Andhra reached Sabarimala as part of their pilgrimage to different temples in Kerala and Tamil Nadu. They belong to Gundur and Amaravati in Andhra. The group came in five tourist buses with 200 plus women including young women.

The young women in the team were stopped from entering the temple in Sabarimala.

“Our perception about Malayalis was not like this. We thought the Keralites who are highly educated will accept the Supreme Court verdict. We happened to know about the protest only after reaching here. We don’t want to hurt anyone’s beliefs. Hope we shall be able to ascend the hills next year,” said Amaravati native Maheshwari.

Hoped to see Lord Ayyappa

We conduct pilgrimage every year to different temples. This time as the Supreme Court issued order allowing entry of women in the age 10-50 years in the Sabarimala temple, we hoped to get darshan of Ayyappa. We reached Nilakkal on Monday night. We stayed there for the night and left for Pampa on Tuesday morning by KSRTC bus. But, there were wide protests, so we decided to leave.

Would not break customs

Divya, a member of the pilgrim group, said that they decided not to move forward when the protesters kneeled down before them and chanted aloud. “They arrived in groups when we started to ascend the hills. We did not come to hurt anyone’s beliefs. So, we returned to Nilakkal,” she said.

Took rest under the buses

About 125 men among the group went to Sannidhanam. The ladies waited for them at Nilakkal till night. They had to spend the entire day in parking ground and had to take rest near the bus under scorching sun. There were small children among them. They cooked food all by themselves.

Never knew about the protests

Kurumukhi, another devotee in the group said, “We did not know that there were protests raging in the place over the women entry. We felt happy when women were allowed to enter. So we came in. Maybe it came too suddenly that Malayalis could not accept it. We will come again. We hope everything would get clear then.”