Congress, BJP Hit out at Pinarayi VIjayan as Women Enter Sabarimala Temple

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Desai, who had spearheaded the campaign for women to be allowed into various religious places, including the Shani Shingnapur temple, the Haji Ali Dargah, the Mahalakshmi Temple and the Trimbakeshwar Shiva Temple, had sought protection to reach Sabarimala and had sent an e-mail to Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, seeking security.

Mobile phone footage aired by Indian news channel ANI showed two women wearing full-face veils hurriedly entering the shrine in the early hours of the morning.

The shrine is dedicated to the deity Lord Ayappa, who is considered celibate, and tradition forbade women of menstruating age from entering.

According to reports, Bindu said that the Kerala Police helped them to have their darshan in their second journey.

India's Supreme Court in September ordered the authorities to lift the ban on women or girls of menstruating age from entering the Sabarimala temple, which draws millions of worshippers a year.

On Tuesday, over 35 lakh women stood shoulder-to- shoulder across the national highways in Kerala, creating a 620 km-long human "wall" from the northern end of Kasaragod to the state's southern tip.

"Those who have tried to purify the temple today after the women entered are standing against the constitution of this country". They have become the first women to offer prayers at Sanctum sanctorum of Lord Ayyappa shrine since the Supreme Court overturned the centuries-old tradition a year ago. The women - protected by police - entered Sabarimala around 3am local time on Wednesday. Police have clashed with devotees supporting the ban and have arrested more than 2,000 people.

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Kerala has become the venue of an angry showdown between Hindu traditionalists and supporters of September's supreme court ruling which ended a longstanding ban on women aged between 10 and 50.

The CPI (M) state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan and state ministers came down heavily on the chief priest for performing the ritual in violation of Supreme Court order. Media reports said some were heckled by right-wing activists.

"Of course, I support the move to allow women of all ages into the temple".

What happened when women finally entered the temple?

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An estimated one million Hindu pilgrims travel to the Sabarimala temple in the southern state of Kerala annually. The temple is dedicated to the god Ayyappan, believed to be the son of Shiva and Vishnu.

NSS, which has filed a review plea in the Supreme Court challenging its verdict, expressed hope that the top court would take a favourable decision.

But India's ruling party, the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has argued that the ruling is an attack on Hindu values.

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