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.

Just Posted

Nanaimo mall evacuation sparked by 15-year-old with imitation gun

Police say Monday’s ‘dynamic scene’ at Woodgrove Mall handled calmly

Worried about bats? Here’s what to do if you come across one in B.C.

Bat expert with the BC Community Bat Program urges caution around the small creatures

Vancouver Island mom headed to overseas court in bid to reclaim daughter

Nanaimo’s Tasha Brown says her estranged wife abducted their daughter Kaydance Etchells in 2016

Wolves not gnawing into Island’s prey population

Forestry practices, not predation, blamed for reduced numbers in prey animals

South Island nursery cleared to sell ‘less than half’ of plants following sweeping quarantine

Single plant found with infected spores on July 3 put 100,000 plants at risk

VIDEO: Reports say Lashana Lynch is the new 007

Daniel Craig will reprise his role as Bond one last time

Victoria businesses remain plastic-bag free, despite court ruling

Business association says no one has inquired into re-establishing the use of plastic bags

Bathtubbing’s ‘Mom’ honoured for a lifetime supporting the sport

Longtime Nanaimo volunteer Margaret Johnson depicted on souvenir coins and named parade marshal

South Island’s Deep Cove Chalet set to re-open following fire

North Saanich eatery says July 24 will be ‘business as normal’ following rebuild

Crash Test Dummies bring their musical storytelling to Vancouver Island in August

25th anniversary of God Shuffled His Feet celebrated with concerts in Sidney, Nanaimo and Courtenay

B.C. on right road with tougher ride-hailing driver rules, says expert

The provincial government is holding firm that ride-hailing drivers have a Class 4 licence

B.C. Ferries cancels two sailings Monday due to mechanical issues

Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay run affected in order to repair Queen of New Westminster

RCMP investigating alleged ‘sexual misconduct’ by cyclist on BCIT campus

BCIT said they were reviewing video evidence of the incident

New home cost dips in B.C.’s large urban centres

Victoria, Kelowna, Vancouver prices decline from last year

Most Read