Clashes After 2 Women Enter Sabarimala, Stun Grenades, Tear Gas Used

Clashes After 2 Women Enter Sabarimala, Stun Grenades, Tear Gas Used

Hindus chant devotional songs during a protest against reports of two women of menstruating age entering the Sabarimala temple, Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2019.

News of the visit triggered protests in the state capital of Thiruvananthapuram, where police fired teargas and used water cannons to disperse a large crowd of demonstrators.

Despite the Supreme Court's historic decision on September 28 a year ago, permitting women in the 10-50 age group, no children or young women in the "barred" group were able to offer prayers at the shrine following frenzied protests by devotees and right-wing outfits.

September's verdict was the latest progressive ruling from the court, with judges also overturning bans on gay sex and adultery previous year - posing a challenge to Modi's traditionalist BJP. A cop was injured in stone pelting.

Modi's government did not immediately react to news of the women entering the temple, but activists celebrated.

Confirming their entry, the chief minister told reporters "it is a fact that the women have entered the temple".

Two women braved a centuries-old ban on entering a Hindu temple in the Indian state of Kerala on Wednesday, sparking protests by conservative Hindu groups outraged by their visit. The group consisted of six men in addition to the two women, who had covered their faces. "Police are bound to offer protection to anyone wanting to worship at the shrine", he said. A video accessed by NDTV showed them hurrying into the shrine along with a police team even as a group protested in the backdrop.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan confirmed the reports and said, "Yes, it's true, the women have had the temple darshan".

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Over 1,000 women formed a human chain in Mumbai to express solidarity with the ' Women's Wall' formed in Kerala as part of an initiative to uphold gender equality amid the row over entry of females of certain ages in the Sabarimala temple.

The BJP's leader in Kerala described the women's visit as "a conspiracy by the atheist rulers to destroy the Hindu temples", vowing to "support the struggles against the destruction of faith by the Communists". They argue that the court has ignored their belief that the deity Ayyappa was celibate. The ban was informal for many years, but became law in 1972. Bindu said that they would trek to the temple since the cops had promised to escort them to the Sannidhanam.

The Supreme Court has agreed to re-examine its decision to lift the ban, after numerous legal challenges were brought against it.

Only those who have observed the vratha and carry the irrumude, a symbolic offering, can enter the main courtyard up 18 divine golden steps.

Legend says that the goddess Malikapurathamma asked Ayyappa to marry her.

Many Hindu groups and Prime Minister Narendra Modi's nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) oppose the ruling.

The BJP is not in power in Kerala.

Women activists believe that Bindu and Kanakadurga could enter the temple safely because there were no protestors at Sabarimala.

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