A security personnel stands guard at the Sabarimala temple in Kerala's Pathanamthitta district. (IANS file photo)
Bindu and Kanakdurga, two women who successfully managed to enter the Lord Ayyappa Temple in Kerala’s Sabarimala, have become a household name now. But how exactly they managed to sneak past the protesters and onlookers? Answer lies in meticulous planning by Kerala Police, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s Office. Such was the secrecy of this entire mission that only top officers and the Chief Minister was aware about this. In fact, to avoid any glitch, the Travancore Devaswom Board officials were also kept out of the loop.
According to a Times of India report, the women were living at a secret location for past one week. The police planned a pre-dawn trek to avoid any attention. Only six hand-picked officers dressed in black clothes accompanied the women devotees. They avoided the usual route and stepped inside the temple via the staff entrance. The women also avoided the ‘Pathinettam Padi’ (the 18 holy steps) and didn’t carry ‘irumudikettu’ (the offerings for the deity) on their heads, the report said. The women began trekking at around 1 am and reached the temple around 3:30 am. Within ten minutes, they entered the temple, had quick darshan, and were whisked away by the cops.
The Wednesday darshan broke the decades-old tradition. Though there is no clarity over the ban of women’s entry inside the temple, it was in 1991 that the Kerala High Court formally banned entry of women of menstruating age inside the temple. 27 years later on September 28, 2018, the Supreme Court lifted the ban, saying that discrimination against women on any grounds, even religious is unconstitutional.
Reacting to the entry of the two women into the temple, senior Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala said it showed the "headstrong attitude" of the chief minister. PS Sreedharan Pillai said the CPI-M-led government had "betrayed" the sentiments of Ayyappa devotees. Women's rights activist Trupti Desai, the leader of Bhumata Brigade who led the campaign for women to be allowed to offer prayers in Maharashtra's Shani Shingnapur temple, Haji Ali Dargah, Mahalakshmi temple and Trimbakeshwar Shiva temple, hailed the courage of the two women. "This is a big victory for our agitation. Victory of equality...This is a good beginning for women in the new year," Desai was quoted as saying by the Press Trust of India.
(With inputs from PTI)