Protests in India as women enter Hindu temple

0
39

Protests in India as women enter Hindu temple

Demonstrators including Hindu priests and conservatives have continued to block women of menstruating age from entering the centuries-old temple.


Policemen stand guard near the state secretariat anticipating protests after two women entered the Sabarimala temple in Kerala, India (RS Iyer/AP)
Policemen stand guard near the state secretariat anticipating protests after two women entered the Sabarimala temple in Kerala, India (RS Iyer/AP)

Two women have entered one of India’s largest Hindu pilgrimage sites, which had been forbidden to females between the ages of 10 and 50, sparking protests across a southern state.

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.

ipanews_25ed80c7-ce64-471d-b70e-676532323410_embedded240431890
Protesters block traffic and shout slogans in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala (RS Iyer/AP)

The two women in their forties entered the temple early on Wednesday and worshipped there, said state police spokesman Pramod Kumar.

Officers escorted the two women to the hilltop temple because of “police responsibility to provide protection to any devotee irrespective of gender”, Mr 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,” Mr Vijayan said.

ipanews_25ed80c7-ce64-471d-b70e-676532323410_embedded1683531
Opposition party activists protest (RS Iyer/AP)

Protests broke out in several places in the state after the women entered the temple, and police fired tear gas to disperse at least one of them.

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.

}
});

#bb-iawr-inarticle- { clear: both; margin: 0 0 15px; }

ipanews_25ed80c7-ce64-471d-b70e-676532323410_embedded1682842
Part of a ‘women’s wall’ in Thiruvananthapuram, in the southern Indian state of Kerala (RS Iyer/AP)

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.

Press Association

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here