Sabarimala
"It was the police's duty to take me, I am going back because I'm told there was no way to go forward," Mary Sweety told media persons.
Image courtesy: Korah Abraham

Mary Sweety was the third woman to attempt to climb the hill to Kerala’s Sabarimala temple on Friday morning, but she was asked to return after police denied her protection. As of Friday, no woman between the ages of 10 and 50 have been able to enter the temple, despite the Supreme Court verdict reversing the ban.

Mary, a 46-year-old woman from Kazhakkoottam, expressed her desire to see the deity just once on the holy day of Vidyarambham. She reached Pamba and told media persons that “her body was full of divine power motivating her to climb.”

Police, however, declined to provide protection to Mary, as a crowd of protesters chanted religious slogans and heckled her.

"It was the cops' duty to take me, I am going back because I'm told there was no way to go forward," she told media persons. She was escorted by police to the control room of the police station at Pamba.

Early on Friday, two women tried to enter the sanctum sanctorum of the Sabarimala temple. 24-year-old journalist Kavitha Jakkala, a Hyderabad-based news anchor, along with a three-member crew, and Rehana Fathima from Ernakulam were accompanied by Inspector General Sreejith and 80 policemen. However, they were stopped 500 metres away from the steps.

Though IG Sreejith tried to convince a group of devotees, who were protesting the entry of the two women into the temple, it fell through. Later, the Kerala government intervened and said it was not right to hurt the sentiments of devotees. Devaswom Minister Kadakampalli Surendran informed the Director General of Police that the women should not be allowed to enter, since they are activists and not devotees.

Meanwhile, the temple priests halted their daily rituals, sat at the base of the 18 steps leading up to the temple protesting against women’s entry inside. The Thantri family and the Pandalam royal family even threatened to close the temple doors if they enter.

After over half an hour discussion with the women, IG Sreejith said they agreed to go back. Kavitha and Rehana are escorted back to safety amid tight police protection. Meanwhile, protesters along the route have been hooting and booing while chanting 'Swami Saranam Ayyappa.'