2 women enter Hindu temple in India, breaking years-long ban

Some 5 Million Indian Women Form Massive Human Chain for Gender Equality (PHOTO)

Violent clashes were reported between scores of people in front of the state parliament in Thiruvananthapuram, while protests with sporadic violence were also reported in several other towns across the state.

Opponents of the ruling say the celibacy of the temple's presiding deity, Lord Ayyappa, is protected by India's Constitution, and that women of all ages can worship at other Hindu temples.

Numerous protesters blame Kerala's left-wing government for allowing the women to enter.

September's verdict was the latest progressive ruling from the court, with judges also overturning bans on gay sex and adultery past year - posing a challenge to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's traditionalist Bharatiya Janata Party.

Announcing the dawn-to-dusk shutdown on behalf of the Sabarimala Karma Samiti Samiti, its leader K P Sasikala said the government has betrayed devotees.

The temple was shut down for ritual "purification" for sometime before reopening, NDTV reported.

The Kerala state government is run by left-wing parties and it has sought to allow women into the temple - a position that has drawn the criticism of both of the main political parties, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Police officials said they were preparing for more demonstrations on Thursday because several political and Hindu groups have called for a strike to protest the women's entry.

Traditionalists over the past few months have stopped women from trying to enter the hilltop temple site, at times violently. She added that a few devotees had identified them while they were on their trek.

On the same day, thousands of women took part in the state-wide protest by forming a 620 kilometer (385 mile) human chain, termed the "women's wall", calling for gender equality and access to the Ayyappa temple.

Addressing media here on Wednesday, January 2, Ayyappa devotee Ganesh Podhuval said, "With the clear intension of hurting Hindu sentiments, Pinarayi Vijayan led Kerala government made way for those two women in entering Sabarimala temple".

September's verdict was the latest progressive ruling from the court, with judges also overturning bans on gay sex and adultery a year ago - posing a challenge to Modi's traditionalist BJP.

"Have the Communists desecrated Sabarimala shrine by facilitating entry of women of restricted age group into the temple?".

"There are some temples which have their own traditions, where men can't go". "Some believe that's because such women are impure".

In October previous year, devotees clashed with police in a town near the temple leading to the arrest of more than 2,000 people.

Later, media reported that the temple had re-opened.

The Supreme Court is to start hearing a legal challenge to its ruling on January 22.

On Tuesday, millions of women in Kerala joined hands to form a human link that stretched more than 600 kilometers.

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