Two women below the age of 50 entered the Sabarimala temple in Kerala Wednesday, with the help of police in mufti. The women, Bindu and Kanakadurga, started their climb around midnight and reached inside the sanctum sanctorum early morning at 3:45 am. The shrine, which was closed for ‘purification rituals’ reopened later today.
Confirming that the women, in their 40s, went inside the temple under security cover, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan told reporters, “There were hurdles for women to climb and enter Sabarimala temple. If they have entered the temple today, there must not have been any hurdles. It is true that they have entered. Police had been given instructions to provide protection to any woman who wants to climb.”
A recording of their entry into the shrine has been doing rounds on WhatsApp. The video footage shows the women taking a different route without climbing the sacred 18 steps used by pilgrims who take the 41-day vow and carry the sacred offering of ‘irumudikettu‘. The women used a side entrance, used by VIPs and the media, which gets them directly in front of the sopanam and into the sanctum of the temple. They later returned to Pamba.
Police officials at the base camp in Pampa initially said they were unaware of the two women’s whereabouts. The District police chief was unavailable on the phone. The Travancore Devaswom Board and the priest’s family are checking the camera footage to verify the claims.
Women in the reproductive age are traditionally barred from entering the Sabarimala temple. But the Supreme Court, through its September 28 landmark verdict, lifted the curb and permitted women of all age groups to offer prayers at the temple. Massive protests rocked Kerala after the Supreme Court verdict. Over a dozen women were stopped by the protesters when they made their way to the shrine. Since the temple first opened after the SC’s judgment, violent protests, a state-wide strike and prohibitory orders have dominated Kerala.
While Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan welcomed the judgment, the state Congress and BJP opposed it. In an interview to news agency ANI, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the matter relates to tradition and pointed towards the dissenting view by Justice Indu Malhotra. “Every temple has its own customs and traditions, there are some temples in India where men cannot enter. The judgment by the woman judge (in SC) should be read carefully. No need to attribute this to any political party, she has given that order looking at the issue as a woman. There has to be a debate on that also.”
Earlier, Ayyappa Dharma Sena leader Rahul Easwar, who spearheaded the protests against the apex court’s verdict, told NDTV the chances of the two women making it inside the shrine were “extremely less” and that they would verify the footage and take appropriate action.