Sabarimala temple closed for ‘purification rituals’ upon entry of women below 50 into shrine

[dropcap]I[/dropcap]t can be said that the new year began well for Kanakadurga, 42, and Bindu, 44 who after over three months of the Supreme Court’s ban lift on entry of women of menstrual age inside Kerala’s Sabarimala Temple, entered the hilltop shrine to offer prayers for the first time.

However, soon after, the temple was closed for purification rituals, ANI reported. Kanakadurga and Bindu  claimed that they had entered the holy shrine of Lord Ayyappa early on Wednesday morning. They made efforts to enter the shrine in December but had to return due to protests.

As per news reports, the women trekked to the hill shrine early on Wednesday. A video shared on Twitter by ANI showed them entering the shrine, wearing black clothes, with their heads covered. The women started their climb around midnight and entered the temple around 3.45 am on Wednesday, escorted by police personnel.

Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan confirmed that two women entered the Sabarimala Temple. “We had issued standing orders to police to provide all possible protection to any woman who wants to enter the temple,” he was quoted as saying by ANI.

Bindu, a college lecturer and CPI(ML) activist from Kozhikode district’s Koyilandy, and Kanakadurga, a civil supplies employee from Angadipuram in Malappuram, had come to Sabarimala on December 24, when 11 women activists of a Chennai-based outfit were prevented from reaching the shrine and chased away by devotees chanting Ayyappa mantras.

The temple was opened again on December 30 for the Makaravillaku festival and there has been a heavy rush of pilgrims.

Sabarimala temple had witnessed protests from devotees over the entry of women between the 10-50 age group in the shrine after the government decided to implement Supreme Court’s order allowing women of all age to offer prayers there.

This comes a day after over 35 lakh women created a 620 km-long human ‘wall’ as part of a state-sponsored initiative to uphold gender equality amid Sabarimala controversy. The women, on Tuesday, stood shoulder-to-shoulder across the national highways in Kerala from the northern end of Kasaragod to the southern tip here Tuesday as part of a state-sponsored initiative to uphold gender equality.

On Monday, thousands of devotees lit ‘Ayyappa Jyothis’ (lighting of sacred lamps) and lined up from Hosangadi in Kasaragod to Kanyakumari, vowing to protect the age-old customs and traditions of Sabarimala.

An outfit of Kerala’s forward Nair community has said it would go to any extent to protect the customs of the Lord Ayyappa temple. Accusing Kerala CM of trying to destroy the centuries old traditions and customs of the Sabarimala temple, the outfit’s general secretary G Sukumaran Nair said that the attempts made to crush the faith of the people would not succeed.

(With inputs from Agencies)