(Image source from: ThePrint)
The Sabarimala temple in Kerala has been closed Wednesday for purification rituals after two women below the age of 50 entered the shrine with the help of police in mufti.
The women, Kanakadurga and Bindu, started their climb around midnight and reached inside the sanctum sanctorum early morning at 3:45 a.m.
Confirming that the women, in their 40s, went inside the temple under security cover, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan told reporters, "There were hurdles for women to climb and enter Sabarimala temple. If they have entered the temple today, there must not have been any hurdles. It is true that they have entered. Police had been given instructions to provide protection to any woman who wants to climb."
A recording of their entry into the shrine has been doing rounds on WhatsApp. The video footage shows the women taking a different path without climbing the sacred 18 steps used by pilgrims who take the 41-day vow and carry the sacred offering of 'irumudikettu'. The women used a side entrance, used by VIPs and the media, which gets them straight in front of the sopanam and into the sanctum of the temple. They later returned to Pamba.
Both residents of Kerala had earlier tried to climb up to Sabarimala earlier this month, however, had been blocked by massive protests.
In fear of protests, tight security arrangement has been made at Kanakadurga's house and her family has also been shifted to an off the hook location.
Police officials at the base camp in Pampa initially said they were unaware of the two women’s whereabouts. The Travancore Devaswom Board and the priest's family are checking the camera footage to verify the claims.
The Supreme Court in its landmark verdict on September 28 lifted the curb and permitted women of all age groups to offer prayers at the temple consequently leading to massive protests. More than a dozen women were blocked by the protesters when they made their way to the shrine. Since the temple first opened after the SC's judgment, violent protests, a state-wide strike and prohibitory orders have dominated Kerala.
Earlier, Ayyappa Dharma Sena leader Rahul Easwar, who spearheaded the protests against the supreme court's verdict, told NDTV the chances of the two women making it inside the shrine were "extremely less" and that they would verify the footage and take appropriate action.