In a first since the Supreme Court allowed the entry of women between the 10-50 age group into the Sabarimala temple, two women, identified as Bindu and Kanakadurga, created history by entering the sanctum santorum of the shrine in the wee hours of Wednesday morning.
Despite support from the Kerala administration, several women have failed to reach the hill shrine, deterred by protests fueled by the BJP and several Hindu fringe groups against the apex court verdict.
Here are the women who have tried entering Sabarimala
October 17: When the temple opened its doors for pilgrims for the first time after the Supreme Court’s verdict, a 45-year-old woman from Andhra Pradesh, Madhavi, was forced to retreat with her son and daughter after walking a few metres towards the shrine. Another woman, on her way to Sabarimala, was stopped at a bus stand and asked to return. Two women journalists from The News Minute and Republic TV were among those injured as protests turned violent. A couple from Tamil Nadu, between the age of 45 and 40, on their way to Pamba base camp, was forced deboard a bus.
October 19: Kerala activist Rehana Fathima, 31, and journalist Kavitha from Andhra Pradesh had sought police protection to trek up the hill. However, their journey to the sanctum sanctorum was disrupted by Ayyappa devotees.
November 7: A woman above menstrual age was allegedly manhandled at the temple and few young women approached the steps near the sanctum sanctorum of the hill shrine. They were suspected them to be of “traditionally barred” age group of 10-50 years. Lalitha Ravi, 52, from Thrissur, had come to attend her grandchild’s ‘choroonu’ (rice feeding ceremony) at the Ganapathi temple in Pamba, when rumours over her age triggered protests at the Sannidhabam.
November 16: An evening before the temple’s re-opening, Hindu Aikyavedi state President K P Sasikala, 50, was taken into preventive custody near Marakootam at 2.30 am after she allegedly defied orders not to spend the night in the temple complex, according to the police. Sasikala, who was carrying the ‘irumudikettu’ on her head, was stopped by the police as they had decided to not allow devotees to enter the shrine premises after it closes for the night. She was released on bail the next day and issued a show-cause notice by a court.
November 17: Bhumata Brigade leader Trupti Desai was prevented from leaving the Kochi International Airport, in a siege that lasted almost 14 hours. Over 700 women had registered their names with the police seeking protection during their trek to the temple when the temple re-opened.
December 17: Four members of a group of transwomen had received a green signal from the Kerala police to trek up the hill and were allowed to offer prayers with police protection. Earlier, the transgenders – Anannyah, Trupthi, Avantika and Ranjumol – were sent back by the police at Erumely, a major halting point for Ayyappa pilgrims, citing law and order problems.
December 22: A group of 12 women from Chennai had left for the shrine and were stopped by the protesters the next day. The women were part of a Chennai-based women rights organisation, ‘Manithi’, which had decided to meet another group of 15 women from Kerala before beginning their journey to the temple.
December 23: Two women, Bindu and Kanakadurga, who managed to enter the shrine today, had previously made an attempt last month to enter the shrine but had failed. Apart from the two women, 11 women were stopped by pilgrims and made to return.