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Defence Official to Become First Woman to Scale Agasthyarkoodam Peak in Kerala After HC Order

The Kani tribal community of the area, staging a protest in Bonacaurd, has expressed dissatisfaction over the entry of women in their holy space

Neethu Reghukumar | CNN-News18

Updated:January 14, 2019, 4:56 PM IST
Defence Official to Become First Woman to Scale Agasthyarkoodam Peak in Kerala After HC Order
Kani tribe has claimed that they have been traditionally worshipping the idol of Agasthya Muni atop the hill and it was customary for women not to go near the idol (Photo: Kerala Tourism)

Thiruvananthapuram: Dhanya Sanal, a public relations officer (PRO) in Thiruvananthapuram, is set to become the first woman to trek to Agasthyarkoodam after the High Court lifted a Sabarimala-like traditional ban last year.

Speaking to CNN-News18, Sanal said, "The trek on the second day is much tougher, but I hope to complete it well.”

The Defence PRO had registered for the trek online with January 14 as the start date.

“I will be happy if more women get motivated and go for trekking in the coming years. There should not be any gender bias when it comes to trekking. Everyone loves nature and everyone should be given a chance for this trek," she said.

The first day had only one woman registering. As of today, 100 women are making the journey to the peak. In total, around 4,700 registered for the trek online.

Following the news of women's trekking, the Kani tribal community living in the area expressed reservations over women entering the space. They held a protest at Bonacaurd, the starting point for the trek. Despite facing stiff protest,​ Sanal and team began the trek at 9:30am.

Religious belief in the Kani community maintains that women should not go to the mountain peak. Agasthyarkoodam is a pilgrimage site for devotees of sage Agasthya, who led a celibate life.

Expressing dissatisfaction, Kani tribal leader Mohanan Triveni Kani said," Entry of women to Agastyarkoodam is against our beliefs and tradition. ‘Agasthya’ muni is our god. We offer prayers to him. He is a celibate. Women even in our community do not go to the mountain peak. Our request to all women coming here is not to go to the mountain peak."

Forest officials, however, have reportedly ensured that all arrangements for the trek have been. They are not anticipating any trouble.

“Every day, 100 of them are given slots for the trek. They will be sent up in batches of 10 and each batch will have a guard. They will complete the trek in three days. At any given point, they will have a guide and, if required, services of the forest officers will also be made available,” said Assistant Wildlife Warden CK Sudheer.

The Kerala High court had lifted the ban on women’s entry at the peak last November, considering petitions filed by women's forums like Women Integration and Growth Through Sports (WINGS) and Pennorumma (Women collective).

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