Protests Turn Violent After Women Defy Temple Ban in India

03 January, 2019, 00:08 | Author: Orlando Hughes
  • Some 5 Million Indian Women Form Massive Human Chain for Gender Equality (PHOTO)

Two women today entered one of Hinduism's holiest shrines in south India becoming the first to go into Sabarimala temple since the Supreme Court ordered the end of a longstanding ban on women aged between 10 and 50, a state minister said. "We offered prayers before Lord Ayyappa and returned without any problem from any quarters", she said.

A senior temple official told the BBC that the sanctum has now reopened. The devotees erected a human wall when they reached close to the temple and prevented them from proceeding further. Four policemen in civilian clothes also accompanied them.

What happened when women finally entered the temple?

. "I believe men and women are equal".

The religious conflict has been fueling a political standoff between the far-left parties ruling Kerala and the right-wing nationalist BJP which holds power at the federal level. "This can not be allowed", the activist said.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has confirmed that women have entered the Sabarimala shrine. They made efforts to enter the shrine in December but had to return due to protests. This move will hurt the government in the coming days.

"The darkness gave them, and us, cover", the officer added. The BJP and Sangh Parivar activists blocked National Highways and forced shops to close in many places. But religious protesters have so far made it hard to enforce the ruling.

The protests led to violence in the area forcing the police to impose restrictions and prohibitory orders and arrest dozens of people.

Local media said the temple was shut down for cleansing rituals after the women entered the premises.

In a statement, K. Sudhakaran, vice-president of the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee, called the visit "treachery" and said "the government will have to pay the price for the violation of the custom".

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The Kerala state government supports the court verdict and Mr Vijayan has repeatedly said his government will provide the security to enforce it. "This is a backdoor entry facilitated by the government as per a conspiracy". This can not be healed easily.

"Let all the devotees come forward and protest this", Mr Pillai told local television news channels.

"We walked two hours, entered the temple around 3.30am and did the darshan", the woman said, referring to a ritual of standing in front of the temple's Hindu image.

Legend says that the goddess Malikapurathamma asked Ayyappa to marry her. Bindu hails from Kozhikode, while Kanakadurga is from Malappuram district in Kerala.

As per news reports, the women trekked to the hill shrine early Wednesday.

The Supreme Court overturned that ban but protesters then attacked women and stopped them from going in.

Here follows some background on the temple and the landmark verdict. Earlier, the Devaswom Board used to do this.

This is the the seventh shutdown called by right-wing groups in just three months over the Sabarimala issue. The ban has been imposed on all women and girls between the ages of 10 and 50.

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