Hold Sabarimala chief priest for contempt of court: Kerala’s writers and intellectuals

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A day after millions of women stood together in the Indian state to form a almost 400-mile-long human chain to call for equality, two women made history-and sparked protests and a call for a state-wide shutdown-when they entered the Sabarimala temple in the state of Kerala in the early hours Wednesday.

Police fired teargas and used water cannons to disperse a large crowd of protesters in the state capital of Thiruvananthapuram, television news channels showed.

Kerala had witnessed massive protests by devotees opposing the entry of girls and women in the 10-50 age group into the shrine after the CPI (M)-led LDF government chose to implement the apex court verdict allowing all women to offer prayers at the temple.

Police with batons also charged at protesters who were trying to enforce a shutdown of shops in the area. A cop was injured in stone pelting.

The temple was shut down for ritual "purification" for sometime before reopening, NDTV reported.

Two women braved a centuries-old ban on entering a Hindu temple in the Indian state of Kerala on Wednesday, sparking protests by conservative Hindu groups outraged by their visit. The duo had failed in their attempt to enter the shrine on November 24. [.] It's clear that the women were under police protection. Bindu told media that they entered the temple via the VIP lounge and did not take the traditional "pathinettam padi" (holy steps leading to sanctum sanctorum).

The Communist Party of India (CPI) appeared to disapprove of two women of menstruating age group entering the Lord Ayyappa temple at Sabarimala "secretly" on Wednesday and said it should have been done "openly".

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In October past year, devotees clashed with police in a town near the temple leading to the arrest of more than 2,000 people.

On Tuesday it backed a protest by thousands of women, who formed a 620 km (385 mile) human chain, termed the "women's wall", in support of "gender equality" and access to the temple.

The Supreme Court had refused to stay its verdict allowing entry of women of all age groups into the shrine, but agreed to hear in open court on January 22 a batch of review petitions in the matter. For the first time in the history, the temple has been closed due to a breaking of tradition.

The ban lifted by the Supreme Court also rested on the belief - not exclusive to Hinduism - that menstruating women are impure. Their entry at Sabarimala was taboo for generations and formalised by the Kerala High Court in 1991.

Many Hindu groups and Prime Minister Narendra Modi's nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) oppose the ruling. Instead the state is run by a coalition of left-wing parties which have said they will enforce the court ruling.

Indira Jaising, a lawyer who argued against the ban before India's Supreme Court, said that Wednesday's visit marked "a historic moment".

Leader of opposition Ramesh Chennithala slammed the state government for facilitating the women's entry in Sabarimala, saying the priests were right in closing the temple for purification rituals.

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