In a major development that will have far-reaching consequences, two women devotees entered Lord Ayyappa temple in Kerala’s Sabarimala in early hours of Wednesday. The women also offered prayers to the celibate deity at around 3:45 am. While Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has confirmed the news, the Devaswom board has not given any conclusive reaction. The board says that it will examine the CCTV footage before saying anything. The two women have been identified as Bindu, a college lecturer and CPI(ML) activist from Kozhikode district's Koyilandy, and Kanakadurga, a civil supplies employee from Angadipuram in Malappuram. On December 24, 11 women activists of a Chennai-based outfit were prevented from reaching the shrine and chased away by devotees chanting Ayyappa mantras. The temple was opened on December 30 for the Makaravillaku festival and there has been a heavy rush of pilgrims.
The temple had witnessed protests from frenzied devotees over the entry of women in the 10-50 age group in the shrine after the CPI(M)-led LDF government decided to implement a Supreme Court order allowing women of all age to offer prayers there. The main opposition Congress-led UDF and the BJP have been opposing the entry of young women, saying they are with the devotees.
Here are the Highlights from Kerala:
5:39 pm: Clash breaks out between BJP workers and the police during a protest over the entry of two women in Sabarimala temple. Police used stun grenades, tear gas shells and water cannons to disperse the protesters.
1:12 pm: In Kollam, BJP and RSS activists were seen stopping vehicles and forcefully shutting down the shops. The police reached the spot and have taken them in custody.
1:05 pm: There is no confirmation on the reopening of Sabarimala temple after so-called 'purification.'
12:21 pm: Amid ongoing tension in Kerala, black flags were waved at Kerala Devaswom Board Minister Kadakampally Surendran at Guruvayoor
11:44 am: Kerala Police has finally broken silence on the contentious issue. Kerala DGP Lokanath Behera said that “it is the responsibility of police to give protection to those who come and we did it. Verifying the age and other details is not our responsibility.”
It is the responsibility of police to give protection to those who come and we did it. Verifying the age and other details is not our responsibility: ANI quoting Kerala DGP Lokanath Behera on entry of two women in their 40s in to #SabarimalaTemple pic.twitter.com/uqfYjpKW1F— News Nation (@NewsNationTV) January 2, 2019
11:25 am: We condemn this atheist, Leftist drama, we will fight it out in Supreme Court, Rahul Easwar tells News Nation.
11:20 am: News Nation has learnt that Kerala Police has increased security outside Kanakdurga’s hosue in Mallapuram. She along with another woman devotees had entered Sabarimala shrine on Wednesday morning.
11:15 am: Easwar said that it (closing down of the temple) was a message to atheist leftist govt that no devotee will back down an inch to ‘Save Sabarimala.’
11:13 am: Activist Rahul Easwar took to Twitter and confirmed the news of ‘purification’. ‘Sabarimala Temple closed all the necessary Parihara Kriya will be done (sic),’ Easwar said on the micro-blogging site.
11:06 am: On Tuesday, thousands of women formed series of human chain to protest against the temple authorities. The human chain or women's wall extended up to 620 km.
11:04 am: The entry comes at a time when the state witnessed series of protest againt the temple authorities refusing entry to women devotees.
11:01 am: The fact that the temple has been closed down for 'purification' confirms the news. However, the tantri (priest), who was present during the prayers, has not come forward to talk about it.
10:53 am: kanakdurga, one of the devotees, spoke to News Nation and confirmed the development. She also confirmed that she and the other woman devotees climbed the 18-steps to enter the temple.