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

ARTS AROUND: Port Alberni artists showcase a range of mediums

“Into the Forest” will feature everything from watercolours to quilting

Divers explore the deeps of Sproat Lake using vintage equipment

Heritage Hard Hat Divers will have a maritime heritage exhibit in Port Alberni

EDITORIAL: In face of tough week, Port Alberni first responders deserve our respect

Last week was a difficult week for first responders in the Alberni Valley…

Alberni group focuses on stigmatization as biggest barrier to opioid crisis

Community session planned to raise dialogue on opioid crisis response

Home care complaints up 45% on Vancouver Island

Number of home care hours delivered down 6%, complaints up 45 %

VIDEO: Here’s what the B.C. legislature officers are accused of buying

Personal trips, purchases, alcohol and more laid out in 76-page report by Plecas

Canada’s archive buys rare book that hints at Nazi plans for North America

The 1944 book may have served as a blueprint for a Nazi purge

Ex-Mountie involved in Taser death at Vancouver airport sues government

Kwesi Millington claims he acted in accordance with RCMP training

Forestry and legumes shippers say railways prioritized other commodities

Companies say they lost millions on Port of Vancouver shipments

LETTER: Seniors home care, day programs expanding, Adrian Dix says

B.C. health minister responds to latest Seniors Advocate report

B.C. woman wins Instagram celebrity’s boob job contest

‘Kirill was here’ held a contest for women to win a boob job and a trip to Miami

Man pulls over to help injured owl, gets hit by SUV

Chase RCMP say owl flew away while they were on scene

New food guide addresses ‘elephant’ in the room – alcohol

Experts welcomed the tougher stance on an issue they say demands a co-ordinated strategy

Most Read