The Lord Ayyappa shrine in Sabarimala opened on Wednesday morning after being shut down for an hour-long purification ritual. Head priest Kandararu Rajeevaru had decided to close the temple temporarily to undertake purification rituals after two women in the menstrual age group successfully completed their pilgrimage to the hilltop shrine at Sabarimala.
Earlier in the day, CPI(M) general secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan had claimed that the priests' decision to shut down the temple following entry of women in the barred age bracket was in contempt of court. The Supreme Court had, on September 28, reversed the tradition that lifted the ban on entry of women in the menstrual age group. This had led to widespread protests across Kerala.
On Wednesday, soon after videos of two women—Bindu and Kanakadurga—entering the Sabarimala temple emerged, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had confirmed the development. Kerala DGP Loknath Behra said he has asked for CCTV footages to be submitted for further examination.
It is yet to be confirmed if the women are in the barred age group; however, they claim they are below 50 years of age. The police said it was not their responsibility to confirm their age. However, police said they provided protection to the two women. Bindu hails from Kozhikode, while Kanakadurga is from Malappuram district in Kerala.
The women reportedly arrived at Pamba, the base station, around 1 am on Wednesday and held darshan around 3.30 am. The duo claimed that Kerala police had ensured their security en route to the hilltop shrine at Sabarimala.
Bindu told media that they entered the temple via the VIP lounge and did not take the traditional 'pathinettam padi' (holy steps leading to sanctum sanctorum). She added that a few devotees had identified them while they were on their trek. However, there were no resistance and they completed their trek.
This is the second time that both the women attempted visiting the Sabarimala hill shrine. Their first attempt on December 24 was abandoned after protests from Ayyappa devotees.
Reportedly, the police ensured that the women's trek was carried out in a discreet manner.