Indian women form 620km 'human chain' for equality

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

Sabarimala Sri Ayyappa Swami Bhaktha Vrunda Mangaluru condemned two women below the age of 50 entering in to Sabarimala temple in Kerala. The country's Supreme Court ordered the temple to lift the ban past year, but no woman below 50 had been able to get in, until today.

Despite the ruling, demonstrators including Hindu priests and conservatives continued to block women of menstruating age from entering the centuries-old temple.

Vijayan told a news conference the women, who had previously tried to enter the temple but were blocked by devotees, faced no obstruction on Wednesday.

Kumar said police were gearing up for more protests on Thursday because several political and Hindu groups have called for a general strike to protest the women's entry.

Despite the Supreme Court's historic decision on September 28 previous year, permitting women in the 10-50 age group, no children or young women in the "barred" group were able to offer prayers at the shrine following frenzied protests by devotees and right-wing outfits. A video posted by news agency ANI shows two women wearing black dresses and hurrying towards the shrine. They argue that the court has ignored their beliefs that the deity Ayyappa was celibate.

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

Over 1,000 women formed a human chain in Mumbai to express solidarity with the ' Women's Wall' formed in Kerala as part of an initiative to uphold gender equality amid the row over entry of females of certain ages in the Sabarimala temple.

Two Indian women in their 40s have made history by entering a prominent Hindu shrine in the southern state of Kerala, after months of protests against women accessing it.

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The pair entered the hilltop temple in Kerala state just before dawn under police protection and left undetected, officials confirmed.

Most Hindu temples allow women to enter if they are not now menstruating, rather than disallowing women from a broad age group, according to the BBC.

The temple was opened on December 30 for the Makaravillaku festival and there has been a heavy rush of pilgrims.

Women are still barred from a handful of Hindu temples in India.

What happened when women finally entered the temple?

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The Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has backed the anti-women protesters despite the court orders, in what critics say is a move to fan Hindu religious sentiment to make inroads into the region. Some Hindu communities regard menstruating women as unclean.

It is believed to be the first time women have successfully entered the temple since the Supreme Court ruling last September.

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