Indian women form 620 km human chain in support of temple equality

Indian women form 620 km human chain in support of temple equality

Conservative Hindus gathered in front of the state parliament after two women entered the nearby temple of Sabarimala.

As the news of the women entering the temple spread, protests erupted with right-wing activists blocking highways and forcing closure of shops and markets.

Video showed the women, Kanaka Durga and Bindu, who has only one name, wearing black tunics with their heads bowed as they rushed into the temple.

Young women who have done online booking should also be allowed to go to the shrine and pray there, she said.

India's Supreme Court in September ordered the authorities to lift the ban on women and girls of aged between 10 to 50 years from entering the temple, which draws millions of worshippers each year. Officers escorted the two women to the hilltop temple because of "police responsibility to provide protection to any devotee irrespective of gender", Kumar said.

Tens of thousands of women formed a 385-mile human chain over an Indian temple's rejection of women "of menstruating age".

Police deployed tear gas at protesters in the Indian state of Kerala.

The Supreme Court overturned that ban but protesters then attacked women and stopped them from entering the shrine.

The ´Women´s Wall´ rally was backed by the communist government in Kerala state where the court order on Sabarimala temple has triggered weeks of protests by opponents and supporters of the ban.

Devaswom Minister Surendran said that the government was unaware of the visit of the two women to the Sabarimala temple.

"This is a massive victory for the women of India".

A spokesperson for the Opposition Congress party, K Sudhakaran, described the two women entering the temple as "treachery" and that the left-wing state government "will have to pay the price for the violation of the custom". Noted activist G Mallika viewed this as a clear indication that the trouble in Sabarimala was created by right-wing activists who entered the hillock disguised as devotees.

A number of Muslim women also took part in the campaign and they carried banners with messages like "neither we are impure nor second rate citizens".

It contains a shrine to Lord Ayyappa, believed to have been the Earth-born son of two of Hinduism's three main gods, Vishnu (in his female avatar) and Shiva.

The prohibition was first challenged before the Kerala High Court in August 1991, with the high court ruling that only a priest could make the decision on allowing women access to the temple, a golden-roofed structure thought to be more than 800 years old.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's claimed the issue of the Sabarimala temple was more about religious tradition than gender equality.

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