Scripting history, two women in their 40s entered the Lord Ayyappa temple in Kerala on early Wednesday and offered prayers.
Speaking to media, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said “it is a fact that the women have entered the temple”.
Following the entry of two women at the shrine, the chief priest has decided to close the sanctum sanctorum of the temple in order to perform the ‘purification’ ceremony.
The temple which opened at 3 am was closed at 10.30 am for performing the ritual. Normally, the shrine closes at 12.30 pm.
Since the purification ceremony is on, devotees have been asked to move out of the shrine.
The shrine will open in the afternoon after completion of the ritual.
Despite the Supreme Court’s historic ruling on September 28 last year, permitting women in the 10-50 age group, no children or young women in the ‘barred’ group were able to offer prayers at the shrine following frenzied protests by devotees and right-wing outfits.
CPI(M) state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan told media that the two women have entered the shrine as per the apex court order and the closure of the shrine was against the law of the land.
“People should accept the development as a reality,” Balakrishnan said.
The women trekked to the hill a day after the state-sponsored 620 km-long human wall of women was formed Tuesday from Kasargode in the northern part of the state till the southernmost district of Thiruvananthapuram.
The two women, identified as Kanakadurga (42) and Bindu (42), wearing the traditional black dress, with their head covered, are said to have climbed the hill shrine at 3.38 am Wednesday.
Police have provided security to the homes of the two women fearing possible protests.
On December 24 last year, the two women had unsuccessfully tried to offer prayers at the shrine.
The Lord Ayyappa temple had opened for the 22-day “Makaravilakku” festival on December 30, three days after the conclusion of the 41-day “mandala puja”.
Following the top court verdict allowing women of all ages to offer prayers at the shrine, the CPI(M)-led LDF government had decided to implement the verdict, which was strongly opposed by the main opposition Congress and the BJP.
Bindu, a college lecturer and CPI(ML) activist from Kozhikode district’s Koyilandy, and Kanakadurga, a civil supplies employee from Angadipuram in Malappuram, had come to Sabarimala on December 24 last year after 11 women activists of a Chennai-based outfit were prevented from reaching the shrine and chased away by devotees chanting Ayyappa mantras.