Four transwomen, who were earlier blocked by the Kerala Police on Sunday from taking part in the annual pilgrimage at the Sabarimala temple, offered prayers Tuesday without any resistance or protests from other devotees. They had reached Pamba, the base camp of the temple, in the morning before making the 5-km trek to the temple.
The transwomen — Ananya, Trupthi, Avanthika and Ranjumol — who hail from Ernakulam and Kottayam districts of the state were asked not to proceed to the temple on Sunday by the police citing law and order problems. Local police officials were unsure whether the September 28 ruling by the Supreme Court, which lifted restrictions on the entry of women of all age groups, applied to transgenders as well. In a Facebook Live video, the transgenders alleged that the police officers insulted them by asking them to wear men’s attire if they wanted to enter the temple. The trans women were all wearing black sarees. Subsequently, they filed a complaint against select officers for denigrating their identity and their gender.
On Monday, the four transwomen spoke to DG Hemachandran, the sole police officer on a HC-appointed panel of observers on the temple, and sought his opinion on their entry. The panel consulted both the family of priests as well as the members of the erstwhile Pandalam royal Kingdom, both of whom did not object to the entry of transgenders. They claimed that temple rituals and traditions only barred women of menstrual age. It was decided that the police would escort the four transwomen on Tuesday morning as they climbed the hill at Sabarimala.
It is worth noting that since the September 28 ruling, no woman between the traditionally barred age groups has been able to offer prayers at the temple. While several women attempted to climb the hill individually and in groups, they have been resisted by pilgrims and right-wing Hindu groups.
Meanwhile, a group of 30 women under the banner of a social organization in Tamil Nadu has approached the Kerala CMs office pleading for security and protection as they made their way to the temple. All the women in the group are believed to be under 50. The group is likely to visit the temple on December 23. There’s no word from the police yet on whether security would be given to the group to enter the temple.