Protests expected at Hindu temples as women gain legal access to holy sites

Protests expected at Hindu temples as women gain legal access to holy sites

India’s Sabarimala temple in Kerala will open for a 41-day Hindu festival today–the second time opening since the country’s Supreme

FILE PHOTO: Hindu devotees wait in queues inside the premises of the Sabarimala temple in Pathanamthitta

Photo: Reuters/Sivaram V

India’s Sabarimala temple in Kerala will open for a 41-day Hindu festival today–the second time opening since the country’s Supreme Court ruled it legal for women to enter.

The ruling broke traditional historical precedent in India which has barred females from entry into some sacred sites. However, when the temple opened last month, hardliners prevented a handful of women from entering. Backlash has led to clashes between traditionalists and Indian police, resulting in 2,000 arrests.

Today, more than 500 women have declared their intention to enter. With tensions running high between them and hardliners, police have deployed thousands of additional officers around the site to enforce the ruling and prevent violence. There is no guarantee, however, they can effectively control crowds of as many as 300,000 worshippers.

Continued clashes over the ruling are likely today, with the women who registered just a fraction of those expected to attend. However, India’s Supreme Court justices are resolute, reaffirming their decision earlier this week. Indeed, while the country’s traditionalists may protest and its government largely silent on the matter, India seems to be moving towards greater gender equity.

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