01/03/2019, 15.24
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Protest continues in Kerala over women’s entry in Hindu temple

Nationalists have called for a general strike across the state. Yesterday two women in their forties entered the Sabarimala temple. A protester died in clashes. For Catholic priest, “if a tradition is obsolete, people must be educated to accept change,” however “neither the government nor the courts have the authority to do that.”

Thiruvananthapuram (AsiaNews) – Violent protests broke out across Kerala after two women in their forties entered the Hindu temple of Sabarimala yesterday.

The two women, Bindu Ammini, 42, and Kanaka Durga, 44, made history in a country where several Hindu temples do not allow women of menstrual age inside temples to avoid offending "celibate" gods.

The two women walked up the hill leading to the temple, entered the complex and prayed inside the shrine.

Across the State more than three and a half million women formed a 620-km long human chain to assert their right to equality and their right to pray. However, Hindu radicals reacted with outrage to the two women’s action.

Clashes between members of the nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and members of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) broke out. In one incident, a man died. The victim, Chandran Unnithan, was 55 years old.

According to investigators, he was hit by a stone as he demonstrated along with other BJP supporters. He belonged to the Sabarimala Karma Samithi, a group that opposes the entry of women in temple. The latter today called for a general strike in the Indian state.

For months, the Sabarimala temple affair has been front-page news. It became even more important following a decision by the Indian Supreme Court to lift the ban on women.

Orthodox Hindus believe that menstrual age women (10 to 50 years) are "impure" and therefore should not be allowed into temples. Transsexuals however are allowed.

Fr Varghese Pirul, of the diocese of Arnakulam, told AsiaNews that "there are many places where access is forbidden, such as the courts, parliament, the altar during the mass".

According to the priest, "religious traditions must be respected. At the same time, if a tradition is obsolete, people must be educated to accept change and later the [religious] authorities must enforce the change. However, neither the government nor the courts have the authority to do that."

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