Sabarimala Temple, shut after 2 women entered, reopens after ‘purification’

 Over 3 months after the Supreme Court lifted a ban on the ban on entry of women of menstrual age inside Sabarimala shrine, two women under the age of 50 entered the hilltop shrine to offer prayers for the first time. Soon after, the temple was closed for purification rituals. Kanakadurga, 42, and Bindu, 44, claimed that they had entered the holy shrine of Lord Ayyappa early this morning. They made efforts to enter the shrine in December but had to return due to protests.

Kerala chief minister confirmed that two women below the age of 50 did enter the Sabarimala temple in Pathanamthitta district under police protection, in a first after the Supreme Court lifted the ban on menstruating women inside the shrine, prompting its officials to close its doors to purify it.

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

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 after 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 on December 30 for the Makaravillaku festival and there has been a heavy rush of pilgrims. 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 Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan of trying to destroy the centuries old traditions and customs of the Sabarimala temple, outfit’s general secretary G Sukumaran Nair said attempts being made to crush the faith of the people would not succeed. The temple administration closed the shrine’s doors after the chief minister’s confirmation of the women’s entry and is huddled in a meeting. The temple will be purified and pilgrims have been asked to leave. The devotees standing in winding queues, however, refused to budge.

The two said they offered prayers at the hilltop shrine dedicated to Lord Ayyappa at 3:45am and came back to Pamba, the base camp, at 5am. They claimed they came in men’s attire and two dozen police officers in plain clothes accompanied them. Reports said both came in an ambulance and police discreetly made arrangements for them to reach the temple. The women have also released pictures of them worshipping at the temple.

The BJP said it was a black day in the state. Congress working president K Sudhakaran said the women’s entry was conspiracy was hatched by the chief minister and that he will have to pay a heavy price for hurting religious sentiments of lakhs of devotees.

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