Thiruvananthapuram: The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) on Wednesday criticised the Kerala government’s decision to implement the Supreme Court’s verdict of allowing entry of women of all ages into the Sabarimala Temple with immediate effect, terming it unfortunate.

“Unfortunately, the Kerala Government has taken steps to implement the judgement with immediate effect without taking the sentiments of the devotees into consideration,” said RSS General Secretary Suresh Bhayyaji Joshi.

Noting that devotees’ sentiments “cannot be ignored” while considering the SC verdict, the RSS called upon all stakeholders to come together and address the issue availing “judicial options also”.

“The recent judgement on Sabarimala Devasthanam has evoked reactions all over the country. While we all respect the varied temple traditions followed by devotees in Bharat, we have to also honour the honourable Supreme Court,” the RSS in a statement.

“While the Supreme Court judgement should be respected, RSS calls upon all the stakeholders, including spiritual and community leaders, to come together to analyse and address the issue availing judicial options also,” it added.

The change in stance of the RSS comes after the Kerala government on Wednesday rejected the opposition’s demand to file a review petition against the SC verdict and said it would implement the verdict in the coming pilgrim season itself.

The Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB), which manages the Lord Ayyappa temple, also decided to make necessary arrangements for women pilgrims visiting the hill shrine when it opens for the annual pilgrimage season on October 16.

Back in 2016, the RSS had strongly opposed the ban on women’s entry made no sense even if it was in the name of a thousand-year-old custom.

But on Wednesday, emphasising that it is an issue of a local temple tradition and faith to which sentiments of millions of devotees, including women, are attached, the RSS underlined that these sentiments of the devotees cannot be ignored while considering the judgement.

“There is an obvious reaction to the same by the devotees, especially women, who are protesting against the forceful breaking of the tradition,” Joshi said.

On September 28, the apex court threw open the doors of Sabarimala temple in Kerala to girls and women of all age groups by lifting the ban on the entry of those between the age of 10 and 50, holding this centuries-old Hindu religious practice is illegal and unconstitutional.

The hill-top ancient temple of Lord Ayyappan remains open only for a little over four months in a year and the approach is through a forested area that involves an arduous five-km trek from the Pampa river base camp.

The Ayyappa Dharma Sena president had said the organisation would file a review petition against the judgement. “Until October 16, the Sabarimala temple is closed. So, we have time.”

The shrine’s head priest Tantri Kandararu Rajeevaru had said the verdict was “disappointing”, but the management accepted it.