Sabarimala: Bindu, Kanakadurga entered temple, confirms Kerala CM Vijayan

Some 5 Million Indian Women Form Massive Human Chain for Gender Equality (PHOTO)

Some 5 Million Indian Women Form Massive Human Chain for Gender Equality (PHOTO)

The organizations which throughout the season-since the shrine opened for Thulam monthly pooja, on October 17 in the just-ended year- succeeded in preventing menstruating women from entering the shrine were quite obviously unguarded when Bindu and Kanakadurga, hailing from Koyilandi and Perinthalmanna, managed to sneak into the shrine, jettisoning a tradition strictly upheld by right-wing organizations and conservatives.

The Sabarimala Temple on a hill has become the venue for clashes between Hindu traditionalists and supporters of September's court ruling which ended a longstanding ban on women aged between 10 and 50 years. Police could also be seen charging at protesters who were trying to enforce a shutdown of shops in the area. A cop was injured in stone pelting.

Earlier, the Kerala state president of the BJP described the women's visit as "a conspiracy by the atheist rulers to destroy the Hindu temples".

The move, however, did not go down well with the devotees, with Sabarimala head priest Kandaru Rajeevaru ordering that the temple be shut till 11.30am for "purification" rituals.

One of the women, who both remain under police guard, later told reporters: "We did not enter the shrine by climbing the 18 holy steps but went through the staff gate".

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.

Police officials said they were preparing for more demonstrations on Thursday because several political and Hindu groups have called for a strike to protest the women's entry.

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In October previous year, devotees clashed with police in a town near the temple leading to the arrest of more than 2,000 people.

Footage has emerged showing part of the human chain in the city of Thrissur after the "women's wall" was organised by Kerala state's left-wing coalition government on Tuesday.

The Supreme Court has agreed to re-examine its decision to lift the ban, after numerous legal challenges were brought against it.

It contains a shrine to Lord Ayyappa, believed to have been the Earth-born son of two of Hinduism's three main gods, Vishnu (in his female avatar) and Shiva. A king of the Pandalam dynasty, which is still active in temple operations, found and raised him.

NSS, which has filed a review plea in the Supreme Court challenging its verdict, expressed hope that the top court would take a favourable decision. Their entry at Sabarimala was taboo for generations and formalised by the Kerala High Court in 1991.

Indira Jaising, a lawyer who argued against the ban before India's Supreme Court, said that Wednesday's visit marked "a historic moment".

Clashes between police and demonstrators broke out simultaneously in several towns throughout the state, including a large-scale conflict in front of the state parliament in Thiruvananthapuram.

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