The Sabarimala temple in Kerala was shut for an hour for purification rituals on Wednesday after two women in their 40s entered the Ayyappa shrine before dawn and offered prayers.
In September, the Supreme Court had lifted traditional restrictions on women of menstrual age entering the temple, but until now, massive protests prevented dozens of women from doing so despite police protection.
The two women, Bindu and Kanaka Durga, were accompanied by police personnel and offered prayers around 3.45 am on Wednesday, ANI reported. They had attempted to enter the temple on December 24 as well, but had failed to do so.
Bindu told Mathrubhumi News that they offered prayers from the VIP lounge and did not climb the 18 sacred steps to the shrine. She said the police did not attempt to send them back.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan confirmed that the women entered the Sabarimala temple. “The government has been consistently saying that it will provide security to women who wish to enter Sabarimala,” he told reporters in Kochi. “Two women below 50 entered Sabarimala today.”
He said his government had “issued standing orders to police to provide all possible protection to any woman who wants to enter the temple”, ANI reported.
The Devaswom Board said it had no information about the entry of the two women.
The women’s entry into the temple comes a day after lakhs of women in Kerala participated in the 620 km-long “women’s wall” from Kasargod in the north to Thiruvananthapuram in the south to send a message of gender equality.