Published: Sat, January 05, 2019
Worldwide | By Angelina Lucas

3rd Woman Enters Sacred Hindu Temple In Southern India Amid Protests

3rd Woman Enters Sacred Hindu Temple In Southern India Amid Protests

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.

The Supreme Court had on November 13 chose to go for open court hearing on January 22 of the almost 50 petitions seeking a recall of its order permitting women of all age groups to pray at the Kerala temple. The concern amongst religious leaders is that the women might be menstruating, which they consider to be "offensive" to the celibate god Ayyappan for whom the temple honors.

"If we had gone back to our respective homes, we were sure that we may never visit Sabarimala".

In line with its traditions, the women and girls in the age group of 10 to 50 are barred from praying at the Sabarimala temple.

After the two women entered the shrine Wednesday, the temple was briefly closed by priests for "purification" rituals - a move that leading daily newspaper The Hindu said in an editorial published Friday, "invoked old and regressive notions of purity and pollution, of defilement and desecration". Their entrance was captured on a video that was posted to social media.

Police on Thursday began a clamp down operation, named "Broken Window", following the shutdown call and subsequent clashes.

In an interview with the Indian news agency ANI published just a day before the two women entered the shrine, Modi cited the view of the lone female judge on the bench when the Supreme Court handed down its verdict in September, who dissented.

After they entered, thousands protesting put Kerala state into virtual lockdown.

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"We are a group of like-minded people".

Attempts by ABC News to contact the women were not successful.

Kerala remained tense on Thursday, and the police said additional forces had been deployed across the state to prevent further violence breaking out. "Today is the hartal [shutdown]", explained B. Gopalakrishnan, a spokesperson for the BJP in Kerala. "We were aware and watched the situation", Balram Kumar Upadhyay, a police official in the southern state, told AFP.

"The police is prepared to meet any type of eventuality". He alleged that some district police chiefs did not make preventive arrests, and said this aggravated the situation.

Over 700 people were arrested and 600 were taken into precautionary detention on Thursday.

On Tuesday it backed a protest by thousands of women, who formed a 620 km (385 mile) human chain, termed the "women's wall", in support of "gender equality" and access to the temple.

Earlier, the Kerala state president of the BJP described the visit to the temple by the two women as "a conspiracy by the atheist rulers to destroy the Hindu temples".

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