Protests in India after women defy ancient ban on visiting Hindu temple

Protests in India after women defy ancient ban on visiting Hindu temple

Protests in India after women defy ancient ban on visiting Hindu temple

Protesters also clashed with police and some were later detained.

The "Women's wall" was conceived in the backdrop of frenzied protests witnessed in the hill shrine of Lord Ayyappa at Sabarimala after the Kerala government chose to implement the Supreme Court verdict, allowing women of all ages to offer prayers at the shrine.

A tense standoff lasting more than four hours in Thiruvananthapuram was ongoing, with neither side showing any sign of backing down as rival groups shouted slogans. Police could also be seen charging at protesters who were trying to enforce a shutdown of shops in the area. Several officers were reportedly injured.

"Earlier, women were not able to enter the temple due to certain hurdles".

Nair supported the decision taken by the chief priest of the temple to perform a "purification" ceremony after the two women entered the shrine and offered prayers, violating the tradition of the temple.

The women-Kanakadurga and Bindu-aged 44 and 42, stepped into the hallowed precincts guarded by police three months after the Supreme Court's historic judgement lifting the ban on entry of girls and women between 10 and 50 years of age into the shrine of Lord Ayyappa, its "eternally celibate" deity. Noted activist G Mallika viewed this as a clear indication that the trouble in Sabarimala was created by right-wing activists who entered the hillock disguised as devotees.

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

Kumar said police were gearing up for more protests on Thursday because several political and Hindu groups have called for a general strike to protest the women's entry.

Kerala's Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said: "It is a fact that the women entered the shrine".

But the temple refused to abide by the court ruling and subsequent attempts by women to visit it had been blocked by thousands of devotees supporting the ban.

A number of Muslim women also took part in the campaign and they carried banners with messages like "neither we are impure nor second rate citizens".

In October a year ago, devotees clashed with police in a town near the temple leading to the arrest of more than 2,000 people. A report said the temple opened in the afternoon after completion of the ritual.

The Supreme Court is to start hearing a legal challenge to its ruling on January 22. He said that the women had gone to Sabarimala with the help of CPM leaders.

The reason for Ayyappa's refusal is because of his celibacy - one of the arguments against allowing women of menstruating age to enter.

Protests erupted across the state soon after news of the women trekking to the hill shrine spread.

However, the Left government remains firm in its resolve to stand by the Supreme Court verdict.

The Kerala state government, run by left-wing parties, has sought to allow women into the temple - a position that has drawn the criticism of India's two largest political parties, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

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