Impressive demonstration by women in India protesting temple ban

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.


  1. says

    Good for equality, but I’m not sure I am happy that more people get to be exposed to religious bullshit. On the other hand, maybe women will get to learn about it, and realize it’s nonsense. I’m not familiar enough with hinduism but maybe they will have to whitewash some misogyny..?

  2. Mano Singham says

    Marcus @#2,

    It is a bit of a conundrum when two conflicting values arise. As secular people, we don’t want to encourage more religious worship. But we also oppose discrimination of any kind. To me the harm caused by discrimination is worse and so I feel comfortable;e supporting the women on this.

    This contradiction feels like the old joke about two people complaining in a restaurant:

    First person: The food here is terrible.
    Second person: Yes, and the portions are so small!

  3. John Morales says


    But we also oppose discrimination of any kind.

    Even affirmative action? Positive discrimination is still discrimination.

    (Better to be careful with universal assertions)

  4. John Morales says

    No, Holms. I don’t know what he meant, other than by what has been written.

    Perhaps “oppose discrimination of any kind” actually means “oppose some discrimination”, rather than “oppose all discrimination”.

  5. lanir says

    I understand not wanting to promote religion but I still think this change gets it right. Celibacybiw a life choice but then people around you are no more responsible for keeping you on that path than they are for keeping you in a diet or stopping you from smoking. If even the gods must own their own sexuality then what man can argue that he is above such things?

  6. file thirteen says


    If you’re going to insist on being a pedant, then:

    1. the unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people, especially on the grounds of race, age, or sex.

    The argument for affirmative action is that it’s not unjust, but rather the reverse; ergo, not discrimination (yes, as per that definition, which is merely from a dictionary). You may well have another pedantic definition you want to throw in, but before doing so, I refer you back to Holms’s comment…

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