A nine-year-old girl campaigning for continuation of age restriction for women's entry into the Sabarimala shrine in Kerala drew attention at the temple this morning even as several women were stopped from entering the temple despite the Supreme Court's order that allows women of all ages to offer prayers there.
The Class 5 girl V Padmapoorani from Chennai, who is on her third pilgrimage to Sabarimala, held a placard that said, "I am 9 years old. This is my 3rd visit to Sabarimala. I will come only after 41 years (2058)".
When asked about the campaign that stops women but allows men to enter Lord Ayyappa's temple, the girl told NDTV, "There is no inequality. Women are being allowed before 10 and after 50 years of age. We have to respect the traditions."
Her uncle S Rajarajan said, "The issue has been a topic of discussion at our home and hence we asked Padmapoorani to carry the placard."
"This is not discrimination. There are also temples exclusively for women," S Vijayakumar, her father, said.
Nine women in their menstrual age have unsuccessfully tried over the last five days to enter the Sabarimala shrine. This includes Kavitha, a journalist from Hyderabad, Rehana Fathima, an activist, and Mary Sweety. Kavitha and Rehana had reached the entrance under police protection, but protesters didn't let them in. The chief priest of the temple, too, had written to authorities that he would have to "lock the temple and stop rituals for cleansing if there was any breach".
On Sunday, a woman suffered panic attack after hundreds of men protesters heckled her at the shrine's entrance. She was treated at the government hospital near Sabarimala and later taken to a hospital in Pamba.
Though the Kerala government claims it's committed to enforce the Supreme Court order, it has not created a conducive, no-fear atmosphere for women to offer prayers at the temple. On Saturday, the police refused to give security to 38-year-old Manju.
The temple, which remains open only five days a month, will shut today.