Kochi: Two Kerala-based women under the age of 50 said on Wednesday that they offered prayers at the Lord Ayyappa temple in Sabarimala, becoming the first female pilgrims of menstruating age to have entered the shrine after the Supreme Court’s landmark verdict last year.
Bindu, 42, who is a CPI(ML) activist from Koyilandy in Kozhikode district, and 44-year-old Kanakadurga, a civil supplies employee from Angadipuram in Malappuram, said they began climbing the sacred steps of the temple around midnight and reached the shrine at 3:45 am for darshan. The duo also released a video of their visit.
Speaking to CNN-News18, Kanakadurga said they completed their pilgrimage without police protection and were not met by any protesting devotees, who have foiled similar attempts by women in the past.
“We arrived in Pamba at midnight. We went to the police station, but went ahead with our trek without police protection. We reached Sannidhanam and also went up the sacred steps. We did not face any protests from any quarters. Only devotees were present at Sannidhanam and they did not block us or question us,” she said.
Confirming that the women prayed at the temple, Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan, however, said: “Two women have entered. We had given a standing order to police to provide all possible protection to any woman who wants to enter the temple.”
The two women had attempted to enter the temple last year as well but were turned away by protesters.
Eleven other women of a Chennai-based outfit were prevented from reaching the shrine and chased away by devotees chanting Ayyappa mantras a fortnight ago.
Kerala had witnessed massive protests by devotees opposing the entry of girls and women in the 10-50 age group into the shrine after the CPI(M)-led LDF government decided to implement the apex court verdict allowing all women to offer prayers at the temple.
Right-wing groups have been backing the protests and opposing the entry of young women.