Two women prevented from entering Sabarimala temple

Thiruvananthapuram: Two women of the menstruating age, who trekked the Sabarimala hill today, were stopped midway by protesters opposing the entry of women into the Lord Ayyappa temple, police said.

Reshma Nishanth and Shanila, both residents of Kannur district, attempted to climb the holy hill early in the morning but were prevented from proceeding to the temple after the devotees spotted them with ‘Irumudikettu’ (offerings to Lord Ayyappa).

“They were stopped at Neelimala (en route Sabarimala). They were brought down after protests broke out. After taking them down to Pamba, they were moved to Erumeli at around 7 am,” police told PTI.

Sources said the women came along with a group of men. “We had informed the police before reaching here seeking protection,” Nishanth told media. TV channels reported that both women, who are now under police custody, sat on indefinite fast demanding that they be allowed to enter the shrine.

Reacting to the development, Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran termed the act of stopping devotees (women) from visiting Sabarimala ‘barbaric.’

“All women who have followed the vritham can enter Sabarimala. The act of stopping devotees from visiting the shrine is barbaric. What’s happening at Sabrimala is goondaism,” he said.

Since the shrine opened for the Mandalam-Makaravilakku festivities on 17 November, it had witnessed massive protests by devotees and right-wing outfits against the State government’s decision to implement the Supreme Court’s order, allowing women of all ages to enter the temple.