Two Indian women enter Sabarimala temple in Kerala amid protests

03 January, 2019, 00:09 | Author: Donnie King
  • Some 5 Million Indian Women Form Massive Human Chain for Gender Equality (PHOTO)

The temple, which attracts millions of Hindu pilgrims each year, is dedicated to Lord Ayyappa, "a Hindu god who devotees believe is celibate and can not have contact with women of menstruating age", writes NPR's Lauren Frayer.

Repeated efforts by women to enter the temple after the ruling have been rebuffed by Hindu devotees with police having to step in to escort them out.

The attempts to enter the temple and resulting protests have become a flashpoint as some Hindu hardliners in the nationalist BJP-led country try to defend what they see as core values in Hindu-majority India.

Last year, violent protests broken out in the state after India's top court in September ordered the authorities to void the ban on women or girls of menstruating age - between 10 and 50 - from entering the temple, which draws millions of worshippers a year. The video showed them entering the shrine, wearing black clothes, with their heads covered.

On Tuesday, a 620-km human wall was formed by women in Kerala "in support of gender equality" from Kasargod in the north to the capital, Trivandrum.

Media reports and supporters of the initiative claimed hundreds of thousands of women formed a human chain across the 620km (380-mile) length of the state.

Opponents of the ruling say the celibacy of the temple's presiding deity, Lord Ayyappa, is protected by India's Constitution, and that women of all ages can worship at other Hindu temples.

The pair entered the hilltop temple in Kerala state just before dawn under police protection and left undetected, officials confirmed.

Sabarimala Karma Samiti, which spearheaded the "Nama Japam" agitation against the state government's decision to implement the apex court order allowing women of all ages into Sabarimala, sought the chief minister's resignation.

A centuries-old ban has been breached by two women who entered an ancient Hindu temple in the southern Indian state of Kerala despite strong protests by right-wing conservative groups.

Women are still barred from a handful of Hindu temples in India.

The temple was opened on December 30 for the Makaravillaku festival and there has been a heavy rush of pilgrims.

A spokesperson for the Opposition Congress party, K Sudhakaran, described the two women entering the temple as "treachery" and that the left-wing state government "will have to pay the price for the violation of the custom".

What happened when women finally entered the temple?


On November 13 the Supreme Court agreed to hear challenges to its decision from January 22, but said that until then its September ruling stood.

Hinduism regards menstruating women as unclean and bars them from participating in religious rituals.

Policemen outside the Sabarimala temple.



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