Sabarimala temple closed for purification after women’s entry

Thiruvananthapuram: Tension surrounding Sabarimala temple hit a new peak today as two women, in their forties, claimed to have entered the shrine during the early hours of today.

Immediately after the news came out, the temple doors have been shut by the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) officials for ‘purification’ process.

According to TV channels, the two women, Kanakadurga (42) and Bindu (44), claimed that they had entered the holy shrine of Lord Ayyappa, having trekked there at around 3.45 am.

A video of them entering the shrine, wearing black clothes, with their heads covered, was also uncovered by the police, sources stated and added that details were being collected on the issue.

The women had previously made efforts to enter the shrine in December last year, but had to return due to protests.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan confirmed to reporters today that the women had indeed entered the temple. The CM attributed police protection to be the major differentiator.

“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,” Vijayan said.

“The police were ordered, in advance, to give most possible protection to women who wish to enter the temple,” he said.

The temple doors have been shut for ‘purification’ process and are expected to open later in the day. Pilgrims and people who protested after they found that women had entered the shrine were arrested by the police.

The temple was opened on 30 December for the Makaravillaku festival and there has been a heavy rush of pilgrims ever since.

Meanwhile, TDB president, A Padmakumar said he had no information about the two women offering prayers at the temple. TDB officials have been asked to view CCTV footage to verify their claim, he said.

The temple had witnessed protests from frenzied devotees over the entry of women in the 10-50 age group in the shrine after the CPI(M)-led LDF government decided to implement a Supreme Court order allowing women of all age to offer prayers there.

Who are they
Bindu is a college lecturer and CPI(ML) activist from Kozhikode district’s Koyilandy, and Kanakadurga is a civil supplies employee from Angadipuram in Malappuram. They had come to Sabarimala on 24 December after 11 women activists of a Chennai-based outfit were prevented from reaching the shrine and chased away by devotees chanting Ayyappa mantras.

 

NT Bureau