Protesters block traffic and shout slogans reacting to reports of two women of menstruating age entering the Sabarimala temple, one of the world’s largest Hindu pilgrimage sites, in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India, Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2019. India’s Supreme Court on Sept. 28, 2018 lifted the ban on women of menstruating age from entering the temple, holding that equality is supreme irrespective of age and gender. (AP Photo/R S Iyer)

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

The Supreme Court lifted a ban in September on women worshipping at Sabarimala temple in Kerala state

Two women on Wednesday entered one of India’s largest Hindu pilgrimage sites that had been forbidden to females between the ages of 10 and 50, sparking protests across a southern state, with police firing tear gas at several places to disperse stone-throwing protesters, police said.

The Supreme Court lifted a ban in September on women worshipping at Sabarimala temple in Kerala state. The ban was informal for many years, but became law in 1972.

Despite the ruling, demonstrators including Hindu priests and conservatives continued to block women of menstruating age from entering the centuries-old temple.

The two women in their forties entered the temple early Wednesday and worshipped there, said Pramod Kumar, the state police spokesman. Officers escorted the two women to the hilltop temple because of “police responsibility to provide protection to any devotee irrespective of gender,” Kumar said.

Kerala’s top elected official, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, told reporters that under the Supreme Court order, police were bound to safeguard worshippers.

“Earlier, women were not able to enter the temple due to certain hurdles. They were able to enter the shrine today,” Vijayan said.

Protests broke out in several places in the state after the women entered the temple. Protesters blocked several roads and threw stones at law enforcement officials, sparking clashes, said Kumar, the police spokesman, adding that police fired tear gas to quell the violence.

There were no immediate reports of injuries.

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. He said authorities would provide “all possible security” to businesses.

On Tuesday, millions of women formed a human chain more than 600 kilometres (375 miles) long from Kasargod in the northern part of the state to Thiruvananthapuram, the southernmost city and the state capital, to support gender equality.

The Communist Party of India (Marxist), the ruling party in Kerala, said about 5.5 million women participated in the protest, called by the state government.

On Wednesday, hundreds of women in Mumbai, India’s financial capital, formed a human chain to express solidarity with the women in Kerala.

The Supreme Court has agreed to re-examine its decision to lift the ban later this month in response to 49 petitions filed against it.

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 Hindus consider menstruating women to be impure.

The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Climbers compete for Choc and Chalk

Annual competition attracts more than 100

T.W. Paterson column: Hudson Bay Co.’s Dr. Benson marched to a different drummer

Chief Factor James Douglas soon banished him to the Columbia River

Cowichan resident with dementia breaks silence on stigma in Alzheimer Society campaign

“I don’t think I’ve encountered stigma as much as I’ve encountered a lack of understanding”

Cowichan’s Achurch named all-star MVP

LMG goalie and teammate Scott help VISL beat FVSL

Indian Day School survivors can now submit claims for $10K-$200K in compensation

Anyone who is part of the class action is being encouraged to start the process now

Kids across Canada more at risk of hospitalization from flu this season: doctor

Dr. Theresa Tam said influenza B does not usually peak until February or later

BC Ferries hybrid ships arrive in Victoria on Saturday

The battery-operated vessels will take over smaller routes

Theft victim confronts suspects with baseball bat on Vancouver Island

RCMP in Nanaimo seek to identify of two people alleged to have used a stolen credit card

Closed mills, housing surge support a positive forecast for lumber industries

B.C. lumber producers have closed mills accounting for 18% of province’s capacity, RBC report says

Good Samaritan pays part of rent for B.C. woman facing eviction in can-collecting dispute

Zora Hlevnjak, 76, supplements her pension by collecting cans and receiving public donations

Kelowna’s ‘Baby Mary’ finds biological parents after more than 30 years

Geneologist and DNA test helped her connect with her biological parents

Kelowna hotel to award couples for baby-making with Nooner deal

The deal includes a free stay every Valentine’s Day for the next 18 years

Clerk bruised, traumatized after armed robbery at Nanaimo liquor store

Few details on male suspect in Wednesday incident, says Nanaimo RCMP

One last blast of winter tonight for parts of the Island before temperatures on the rise

A snowfall warning is in effect Friday including east Vancouver Island.

Most Read