Protests after 2 women enter Sabarimala temple, shutdown call for tomorrow
The BJP and other groups protested across Kerala on Wednesday after two women in their 40s entered the Sabarimala temple in Pathanamthitta as agitators forced shops to shut and blocked roads in many areas.
A rally by the Bharatiya Janata Party, which said it was a black day after the women offered prayers at the temple dedicated to Lord Ayyappa, outside state secretariat in state capital Thiruvananthapuram turned violent. News agency ANI reported five members of the BJP’s Mahila Morcha were stopped from entering the secretariat by police.
The BJP has called for a two-day protest against the women’s entry in the Sabarimala temple under police protection. Its state unit president PS Sreedharan Pillai had earlier asked devotees not to get carried away and register their protest only through democratic means.
Many temple offices closed and some devotees on way to the hilltop temple called off their pilgrimage, saying sanctity of the shrine was breached.
Bindhu, a lawyer, and activist Kanakadurga are the first women to offer prayers at the temple after the Supreme Court in September last year ordered authorities to lift a ban on women or girls of menstruating age between 10 and 50 from entering the temple.
Chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan confirmed Bindhu and Kanakadurga entered the temple. “Earlier, their trek was foiled due to inadequate security. Police are duty-bound to give them protection,” Vijayan said.
The temple administration closed the shrine’s doors after the chief minister’s confirmation of the women’s entry to purify the shrine dedicated to celibate Lord Ayyappa. It was reopened after the purification rituals.
Hours later, the Travancore Devaswom Board said it will take action against the tantri (priest) for closing the temple.
“We are not aware of the decision to close the temple. We will seek an explanation from him,” TDB member N Vijaykumar said.
Meanwhile, the Sabarimala Karma Samiti, an umbrella organisation of many Hindu outfits, has called for a Kerala shutdown on Thursday and has asked devotees not to contribute any money in Sabarimala and other temples.
The Sabarimala temple and its base camps have been witnessing protests after the September 28 verdict of the Supreme Court. Traditionalists, who believe the presiding deity, Lord Ayyappa, is celibate, had opposed the court verdict and stopped dozens of women who tried to enter the temple.
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