India’s Sabarimala temple shuts after two women pray at shrine

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Sabarimala: The Sabarimala temple in the southern Indian state of Kerala was shut on Wednesday “for purification” after two women from the hitherto banned age group said they had prayed there, and Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan confirmed this was true.

“Yes, it’s true. The women have had the temple darshan,” the Chief Minister said in Thiruvananthapuram.

As the news spread, the chief priest and temple tantri held a meeting and also held talks with the Pandalam Royal family and decided to close down the hill shrine.

Kantararu Rajeeveru, the tantri, said the temple had been shut for “purification” and would reopen later.

The two women, Bindu and Kanaka Durga, said they had ‘darshan’ at 3.30 a.m.

On December 24, the two had made a failed attempt to pray at the temple as they were chased away by predominantly male pilgrims opposed to the entry of girls and women in the age group of 10 to 50 in line with tradition.

Speaking to the media over telephone, Bindu said she along with Durga reached the Pamba base camp around 1.30 a.m. and along with a few police officers in civilian clothes went up the pathway.

“The government had assured us all help. We reached the base camp and went up the pathway and we had the darshan at 3.30 a.m. We, however, did not climb the hallowed 18 steps, instead went through the way normally used by VIPs,” said Bindu.

She added that both of them returned from the temple with police escort.

“Now we have passed Pamba and are going back and we have police security. We did not have any problems. Barring a few minor protests, there was no other issue,” added Bindu.

Rahul Eashwar, a member of the temple tantri family, said that if there had been a breach of tradition, “then corrective rituals will have to be done”.

“If they had ‘darshan’, they would have camouflaged themselves. If this has happened, it’s most unfortunate. This is nothing but an organised attempt by the Kerala government,” he said.

The temple town has witnessed protests by Hindu groups since the September 28 Supreme Court verdict that allowed women of all ages to enter the temple.

Ever since the verdict, around three dozen women in that age group have tried but failed to go up the pathway leading to the temple due to protests.

(Agencies)