March 2019
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2 women quietly visit Sabarimala, ‘purification’ & protest follow
( KOCHI, Jan03, 2019): Bindu and Kanakadurga, two women in their early 40s, entered the Sabarimala shrine and had Ayyappa darshan on Wednesday, helping break a long-standing religious taboo that prohibited women of menstrual age from visiting the hill-top shrine and marking a red-letter day in the history of women’s emancipation, not just in Kerala but nationwide.

The women, who made an earlier attempt on December 24 but were forced to turn back by right-wing protesters who threatened a violent stir, also ensured that the Supreme Court verdict allowing the entry of women of all ages to the temple finally stands implemented 96 days after it was pronounced.

Bindu (42) is a college lecturer and Kanakadurga (44) is a civil supplies department employee. The two entered the temple undetected at 3.38am, escorted by a small but handpicked team of policemen who smuggled them in through a pre-designated route that avoided the 18 holy steps. The women, in all-black attire traditionally associated with the Sabarimala pilgrimage, wore baggy clothes and had their heads covered so that potential protesters wouldn’t recognise them.

The women were whisked away from the temple by police soon after darshan, taken to Pathanamthitta 40km away, from where they left for an undisclosed destination, officials said. The temple authorities and the whole state became aware of their entry only after TV channels started airing visuals by 8 am.

As the clips went viral, the state government confirmed the news. CM Pinarayi Vijayan said, “Earlier, women were not able to enter the temple due to certain hurdles. They may have entered the shrine today because they would not have faced any issues. It is a fact that the women have entered Sabarimala. Police have given them security.”

The temple authorities reacted through open defiance, and possible contempt of court, by ordering out devotees and closing down the sanctum sanctorum. They performed a “purification” ritual for an hour before the temple doors were reopened.

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