Sabarinala Temple: Women in the age group of 10 to 50 years from entering the shrine.
Two women who had made their way to reach 500 metres from the Sabarimala temple in Kerala were forced to return after the devotees, including junior priests, sat near the main entry point to protest their entry to the Lord Ayyappa shrine. The women, including a journalist, had covered a 4.7 km trek uphill and were minutes away from the holy 18 steps (Pathinettam Padi) that lead to the sanctum sanctorum of the famous shrine where no woman between 10 and 50 years has been allowed for centuries. A third woman, Mary Sweety, was turned midway by protestors.
Devotees have blocked attempts from women in the age group of 10 to 50 years from taking the 4.7 km walk from Pamba. The Sabarimala temple head priest has threatened to stop prayers at the shrine if women in the 10-50 years age group are allowed entry to Sannidhanam.
Sabarimala Ayyappa temple's website explains that since Lord Ayyappa was "Nithya Brahmachari" - or celibate - women in the 10-50 age group are not allowed to enter. "Such women who try to enter Sabarimala will be prevented by authorities," the website reads.
On September 28, a five-judge Constitution bench of the Supreme Court, headed by then Chief Justice Dipak Misra lifted the centuries-old ban on the entry of women of menstrual age into the shrine.
Here are the Sabarimala Temple highlights:
The opposition Congress and BJP today slammed the Kerala government for extending support to bring women activists to Sabarimala temple. Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala asked whether the police gave security to the real devotees. "Has the government taken to the shrine the real devotees? Is the entry of women into the shrine a commando operation? Is this the supreme court order?"
The centre has issued an advisory to Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, asking to tighten security over the Sabarimala protests.
"All necessary precautionary measures may be taken to maintain law and order and appropriate security arrangements may be made to prevent any untoward incident," the advisory said.
- Whoever wants to go to Sabarimala temple can visit the shrine. They cannot be stopped.
- There are six review petitions already on the matter.
- Anybody can hold democratic protest, but they should not include in physical harm
Hindu activists block a road to the Sabarimala Temple, at Vadaserikara town in Pathanamthitta district, Kerala. (AFP)
"Thank you so much for supporting us. We are felling proud to come here. You have seen what dangerous situation we faced," says Kavitha Jakkal on her return. She was escorted back to Pamba by the police after she was stopped 500 metres from the holy 18 steps leading to the sanctum santorum.
The house of woman activist Rehana Fatima who had unsuccessfully attempted to enter the shrine was vanadalised today. She had gone up to the shrine this morning under police protection and returned midway after a meeting with Kerala Inspector General S Sreejith.
Thousands of people, many of them women, have been holding peaceful protest rally against the Supreme Court decision. (AFP)
Sabarimala not a tourist spot, only devotees go there: Ramesh Chennithala
Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala criticised the way the state government was trying to implement the Supreme Court order. He also claimed that activists were trying to enter the shrine for the sake of publicity. Following are the important points he raised over the implementation of the order.
- Sabarimala is not a tourist spot, only devotees go there. Right now what Kerala police is doing is wrong.
- Had there been our government we would have handled the situation better. We would have talked to devotees, there would have been no violence.
- We met the Governor and explained to him the current situation. Not only Hindus but people from all religions are going there. Everyone is worried.
Mary Sweety, a 46-year-old woman, returned midway after she was stopped by protesters at Pamba. "I don't know about them ((journalist Kavitha Jakkal & woman activist. If women have returned, it is your drawback. I want to go there," she was quoted by news agency ANI.
She has currently been taken to a police control room.
"It's a ritualistic disaster," Says Inspector General S Sreejith
- We had brought them (journalist Kavitha Jakkal and woman activist) till temple premises but tantri and priest refused to open temple for them. While we were waiting, tantri informed me that if we attempt to take the women ahead they would close the temple: Kerala IG
- It's a ritualistic disaster. We took them up to temple and gave them protection but 'darshan' is something which can be done with consent of priest.
- We will give them whatever protection they want.
"We have decided to lock the temple and handover the keys & leave. I stand with the devotees. I do not have any other option," Sabarimala Temple head priest Kandararu Rajeevaru was quoted by news agency ANI.
In the three days that Sabarimala has been open for the first time since the landmark Supreme Court order, no woman in the age group of 10-50 has made it to the shrine.
"We have told the female devotees about the situation, they will now be going back. So we are pulling pack. They have decided to return," Inspector general of police S Sreejith says.
"State government should not have implemented the decision in a hasty manner. They should take the views of all the stakeholders into consideration. The state government tried to implement the order with brutal force. This is unacceptable," said a devotee.
The two women - Hyderabad-based journalist Kavitha Jakkar and the other whose identity has been withheld - were escorted by the police as they made the 4.7 km trek from Pamba.
The two women - a journalist and a devotee -who had made the trek to the temple early this morning have agreed to return back, NDTV's Sneha Mary Koshy reports. The main priest have informed police that temple rituals will be closed if the women are allowed entry to the temple.
The women were stopped 500 metres before the shrine by devotees. The two women will receive police protection on their way back to the base camp.
Around 25 junior priests are holding a protest outside the sanctum sanctorum, NDTV's Sam Daniel reports
Not a single woman in the menstruating age of 10 to 50 years has managed to enter the Sabarimala Temple since it opened its doors after Supreme Court last month overturned a centuries-old ban.
To enter the Sabarimala temple, the pilgrim has to pass Pathinettampadi (holy eighteen steps).
Kavitha Jakkal is being escorted by about a 100 policemen in riot gear
The hearing in the bail application matter of activist Rahul Easwar will take place tomorrow before Pathanamthitta Judicial first class Magistrate 1. He was arrested on 17 October from Nilakkal base camp.
"Giving security to the women devotees is important. But now I understand today it's activists who have tried to undertake the trek towards the shrine. Government cannot predecide whether it is activist or people," Devasom Board Minister Kadamkapally Surendran said.
He added that government is focused on protecting the interest of every devotees and will provide protection to those who want to enter the shrine. However, the government will not allow activists to turn Sabarimala into a place to prove themselves, he added.
Inspector general of police S Sreejith is negotiating with protestors to allow the two woman to enter the shrine.
Devotees are sitting in protest near the shrine.
Top Cop Negotiates With Protesters As Woman Nears Sabarimala Shrine
Two women started a 5-km uphill trek towards the Sabarimala shrine in Kerala, escorted by about a 100 policemen in riot gear shielding them from a sea of protesters determined to stop them from reaching the hilltop temple of Lord Ayyappa. The two, including a journalist, are expected to make it to the shrine, on the third day since the temple opened for the first time after the Supreme Court last month overturned a centuries-old ban on women of menstruating age, or between 10 and 50 years, entering Sabarimala."
Citing traditions, both national parties the BJP and the Congress are on the same page opposing entry of women in 10- 50 age group into Sabarimala shrine despite the Supreme Court order.
Though the Kerala government claims it would enforce the top court's order, its commitment has come under question as despite giving police protection they've not enabled women to enter and worship at the Sabarimala shrine.
Inspector general of police S Sreejith has conveyed to the protestors that the police will not go back on implementation of the Supreme Court ruling. He has told them that while he has no problem with the protest on the woman devotees but has made it clear that she has a right to enter the temple.
A woman devotee, who has undertook the trek from Pamba, will reach the venue in 10 minutes. The woman - who is under 50 devotee - will be the first to climb the 18 steps leading to the sanctum sanctorum.
The ban at Sabarimala -- one of the holiest sites in Hinduism -- goes back centuries according to traditionalists, but was only formalised in 1991 by the Kerala High Court.
Kavitha Jakkal, the woman journalist undertaking the trek, is being escorted by police. Police have assured her protection till the shrine.
Devotees visiting the shrine reiterate that the sanctity of the temple and Lord Ayyappa "must be preserved at any cost".
Lord Ayyappa is considered "Nithya Brahmachari" or celibate .
Supreme Court is right that men and women are equal. But here some culture is going on that women in age group of 10-50 yrs aren't allowed in the temple. It's our custom.We should follow our customs as India is custom-following country: Devotee at Sannidhanam, Kerala
Visuals from Sannidhanam as protests opposing the entry of women of all age groups in the temple continue. Protesters say "No woman between 10-50 years of age will enter here. We are protecting Sabarimala."
Woman devotee, journalist on way to shrine
A woman devotee and a journalist have started 4.7 km climb towards the shrine. The journalist, Kavita, works with MoJo Tv in Hyderabad. Police said they will be escorted till the shrine.
What happened on day 2 of Sabarimala temple opening?
- No women devotees were allowed into the hilltop temple as protesters prevented their entry through the day.
- Two New York Times Woman journalists attempted the trek yesterday but were forced to abort the trek midway. The journalists had made it clear that they were not devotees.
- Police used batons against protesters who had turned violent at the Nilakkal Base Camp in Pathanamthitta district.
- A 12-hour state-wide shutdown was called by a group that calls itself the Sabarimala Protection Committee. Many shops are shut and vehicles are off the roads.