Thiruvananthapuram: Thousands of Ayyappa devotees took to the streets in Kochi on Saturday, protesting the Supreme Court verdict allowing women of all age groups into Sabarimala temple.

The Sabarimala temple is set to open next week for a monthly ritual. The Shiv Sena’s Kerala unit on Saturday threatened that its women activists will commit suicide if any woman tries to enter the temple during that time.

"Our women activists will gather near the Pamba River on October 17 and 18 as part of a suicide group. When any young woman tries to enter Sabarimala, our activists will commit suicide," Peringammala Aji, a member of the Shiv Sena Kerala unit was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.

In Kochi, protesters holding placards bearing pictures of Lord Ayyappa and chanting his hymns marched through the city's roads on Saturday after launching the stir from the famed Shiva temple there. The faithful, a large number of them women, urged both the Central and the state governments to intervene in the matter to protect the sanctity of the centuries-old rituals and traditions of the hill shrine.

Gender equality Activist Trupti Desai on Saturday announced that she plans to visit the hill shrine soon. Though the government has not reacted to Desai's planned trip to the temple yet, it has evoked sharp reactions from Ayyappa devotees and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) which is campaigning against the entry of women into the hill shrine.

With agency inputs