MALE PROTESTERS SURGE TO KEEP WOMEN FROM ENTERING TEMPLE
A temple in southern India that is one of the world’s largest Hindu pilgrimage centres opened its doors to females of menstruating age on Wednesday to comply with a Supreme Court ruling, but women weren’t able to enter as hundreds of protesters fought street battles with police to keep them out.
As the gates of the Sabarimala temple were flung open, a crowd of male devotees surged toward the temple. About 1,000 police used batons to try to control the protesters, who attacked and damaged police and TV vehicles and bullied female devotees to turn back.
Police arrested 11 protesters when they tried to block the path of some females.
The entry of females between the ages of 10 and 50 to the centuries-old temple was banned informally for many years, and then by law in 1972.
In 1991, the Kerala High Court confirmed the ban. India’s Supreme Court lifted the ban last month, holding that equality is supreme irrespective of age and gender.
Temple management and the protesters argue that the celibate nature of the temple’s presiding deity, Lord Ayyappa, is protected by India’s Constitution. Some religious figures consider menstruating women to be impure.