2 women enter Hindu temple in India, breaking years-long ban

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

The sanctuary is dedicated to the god of growth and celibacy, Ayyappa, and women of menstruating age are traditionally not allowed to enter the grounds.

Religiously fueled protests escalated in the Indian state of Kerala on Wednesday, with police charging Hindu worshipers with batons and using tear gas, water cannon and stun grenades to disperse rioters in the state capital of Thiruvananthapuram.

In September, the Supreme Court lifted the ban - which became law in 1972 - on women worshipping at Sabarimala temple in Kerala state.

September's verdict was the latest progressive ruling from the court, with judges also overturning bans on gay sex and adultery past year - posing a challenge to Modi's traditionalist BJP. Police also resorted to lathi charge in Palakkad after the protests turned violent.

An officer and several BJP and CPI (M) workers were injured in the police action.

Two women enter Sabarimala temple.

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.

India protesters carry a picture of the Hindu deity Ayyappa at a demonstration following the entry of two women at the Sabarimala temple, in Kochi in southern Kerala state on January 2, 2019. "It is a fact that the women entered the shrine".

"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.




The Bhumata Brigade founder said she was happy to hear that two women in their forties had managed to reach the "sannidhanam" (temple complex) and offer prayers to Lord Ayyappa and congratulated their effort. Sasikala said the protests would continue till Pinarayi Vijayan resigns as chief minister.

India's Supreme Court previous year voided the ban on women aged 10-50 from entering the temple.

State BJP president PS Sreedharan Pillai alleged that the entry of the women shows that they have cheated and betrayed the Hindu devotees.

Traditionalists have also argued that the temple deity, Ayyappa, was celibate.

Indian women stand in a line to take part in a "women's wall" protest in Kochi in southern Kerala state on January 1, 2019. Media reports said some were heckled by right-wing activists. He said that the women had gone to Sabarimala with the help of CPM leaders.

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).

It was one of a string of recent decisions to have eaten away at some of India's traditions, including outlawing bans on gay sex and adultery a year ago.

The 'Women's Wall' rally was backed by the communist government in Kerala state where the court order on Sabarimala temple has triggered weeks of protests by opponents and supporters of the ban.

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