Sabarimala Shut for 'Purification' After Two Women Below 50 Enter Temple

02 January, 2019, 16:37 | Author: Roderick Gutierrez
  • Some 5 Million Indian Women Form Massive Human Chain for Gender Equality (PHOTO)

The Hindu temple located in the Southern Indian state of Kerala was historically off limits to women of menstruating age, with a ban restricting access to women aged between 10 and 50, according to the BBC. The 620 km wall across all the districts of Kerala was triggered by the debates, discussions, and protests around the Sabarimala temple and its traditional ban on women's entry which the Supreme Court recently overturned.

Earlier, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan confirmed the entry of two women inot the temple.

Despite support from the Kerala administration, several women have failed to reach the hill shrine, deterred by protests fueled by the BJP and several Hindu fringe groups against the apex court verdict. The ban was informal for many years, but became law in 1972.

As soon as news of Wednesday´s breach spread, the temple head priest ordered the shrine closed for the purification ritual. "Police have given them security", Vijayan told media here.

Post-verdict of the top court, the first day witnessed massive protests against women entering the temple. They may have entered the shrine today because they would not have faced any issues.

However, the state government defended its decision to protect the women as they went into the temple, saying it was a matter of civil rights. There were no immediate reports of injuries.

Tuesday's rally was organized by Kerala's left-leaning government, with approximately five million women from across the state taking part in the "women's wall", officials told the BBC.

September´s verdict was the latest progressive ruling from the court, with judges also overturning bans on gay sex and adultery previous year - posing a challenge to Modi´s traditionalist BJP.

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. Some Hindu communities regard menstruating women as unclean.

The police intervened and tried to provide women with safe passage to the shrine, resulting in clashes. We followed our legal right as women.

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

More than a thousand women formed a human chain in Mumbai on Tuesday to express solidarity with the "women's wall" formed in Kerala as part of an initiative to uphold gender equality, PTI reported.

Across cities and towns, menstruating girls and women are not allowed to prepare food, enter a temple or touch an idol.

The supreme court is to hear challenges to its landmark ruling from 22 January.

Many Hindu groups as well as Prime Minister Narendra Modi's nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) fiercely oppose the court ruling.

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



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