Sabarimala Head Priest Shuts Door Of Temple As 2 Women Attempt To Enter Amidst Protests

| October 19 , 2018 , 12:19 IST

The famed Sabarimala Temple of Kerala was forced to open its doors for women between the ages of 10 and 50 years on October 17, following a ruling of the Supreme Court. However, due to massive protests, no woman from the barred age group managed to reach the temple, and as on Friday 2 women neared its gates, the head priest of the temple locked the shrine of the Sabarimala temple.

"We have decided to lock the temple and handover the keys & leave. I stand with the devotees. I do not have any other option," said Kandararu Rajeevaru, Sabarimala temple head priest.

Two women, activist Rehana Fatima and journalist Kavitha Jakkal donning body armour and helmets had attempted the trek to the Sabarimala temple on Friday, accompanied by around 300 policemen in riot gear but were stopped 10 minutes from the shrine by protesters who formed a human wall to block their entry. The two women were forced to return back from Sabarimala.

Kerala IG S Sreejith in a statement said that while they brought the women to the temple as per the Supreme Court guidelines, the closing of the temple was the right of the priest.

"We had brought them (journalist Kavitha Jakkal&woman activist Rehana Fatima) till temple premises but tantri and priest refused to open temple for them. While we were waiting, tantri informed me that if we attempt to take the women ahead they would close the temple," Kerala IG Sreejith said.

"It's a ritualistic disaster. We took them up to temple and gave them protection but 'darshan' is something which can be done with consent of priest. We will give them (journalist Kavitha Jakkal&woman activist Rehana Fatima) whatever protection they want," he said.

Kadakampally Surendran, State Devaswom (religious trusts) Minister said that while people of all ages would be allowed to go to the Sabarimala temple, they would not allow it to be a place for activists to "prove" certain points.

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"People of all ages will be allowed to go there. But at the same time we won't allow it to be a place where activists can come and showcase their power. It can't be a place where they prove certain points of theirs," said Surendran.

"There are some people like activists trying to enter. It's impossible for govt to figure out who is who. We know there are 2 activists. One is believed to be a journalist as well," he said.

The Sabarimala temple, dedicated to Lord Ayyappa, traditionally barred the entry of women of menstruating age, but the practice was challenged in the Supreme Court. The apex court on September 28 ruled that women of all age groups should be allowed to enter the Sabarimala temple, sparking protests in Kerala from political parties, Hindu outfits, temple priests and general public men as well as women.

In the 3 days since the temple opened, not a single woman between the barred age group has managed to reach the shrine despite heavy security arrangements and assurances from the government.