The southern Indian state of Kerala has been roiled with turmoil for three months ever since the Indian Supreme Court ruled that a major Hindu temple’s ban on women of menstruating age entering it was unconstitutional. Because of that rule, women between the ages of 10-50 had been barred. The temple leaders and their male supporters have resisted the decision and stopped women from entering and as a result there have been clashes between them and the police trying to enforce the ruling, the latest occurring when two women entered the temple under police protection.
Protests have broken out in the Indian state of Kerala, where groups of angry traditionalists waving black flags blocked traffic and staged demonstrations outside government offices to oppose the entry of two women into a Hindu temple.
Police used teargas and water cannon to disperse the protesters outside government buildings in the state capital of Thiruvanthapuram, according to local news channels. The police intervened after clashes between Bharatiya Janata party and Communist party workers.
The BJP, which rules India, opposes the entry of women into the Sabarimala temple in the southern state. The Communists, who rule Kerala, support the right of women to pray at the temple.
BJP leaders are angry that the two women entered the temple to offer their prayers in the early hours. Priests “purified” Sabarimala after hearing of the visit and will keep it closed on Thursday as a mark of protest.
The two women, who have been given police protection, were defying a centuries-old ban on menstruating women entering the temple. The supreme court lifted the prohibition three months ago, but protesters set on upholding tradition have stopped all attempts by the Communist government of Kerala to let female devotees enter Sabarimala.
The women, Bindu and Kanaka Durga, who are in their 40s, left after offering prayers to the deity Lord Ayyappa, who is celibate. It is this celibacy that is cited by Hindu traditionalists as the reason women under 50 should not enter the temple. The fear is that the women could “tempt” the deity.
The BJP’s head in Kerala, PS Sreedharan Pillai, called the visit “a conspiracy by the atheist rulers to destroy the Hindu temples”. Speaking to local television news channels, he said: “Let all the devotees come forward and protest this.”
The two women have gone into hiding with police security because of threats against them.
So apparently the deity is celibate but can get tempted by women of menstruating age entering the temple. The deity clearly must not get out much. It boggles the mind that people can believe in a deity who only knows what is going on within the confines of a building and has even less self-control than a human. Also why should menstruation be an enhancing factor for sexual temptation? These gods are so inscrutable.
This has resulted in an impressive demonstration of women against the ban, with hundreds of thousands, some estimates running to a couple of millions, of them forming a human chain that extended nearly 400 hundred miles.