Dramatic scenes unfolded at the Sabarimala temple on Tuesday morning when a 52-year-old woman was stopped at the sanctum sanctorum of the temple by a mob who began protesting, saying that she was below 50 years. Lalitha, who hails from Thrissur, was taken to a building nearby, a hospital, where the police verified her age. Through the way, Lalitha was jostled and pushed. Though there were other women with her, the protests were targeted at Lalitha, who according to protesters did not look above 50. After it was found that she was over 50 years of age, she was allowed to continue her journey to the temple.
Lalitha had come to the temple for the choroonu ceremony (held to mark a child's first consumption of rice) of her grandson. She was walking up to the hilltop shrine with other women from her family when she was stopped around 100m away from the ‚Äėpathinettam padi‚Äô (the 18 steps that lead to the sanctum sanctorum).
Devotees at the temple, who had arrived for the Sree Chitra Atta Thirunal puja at the temple, blocked her on the suspicion that she was under the age of 50. The protestors were on the lookout for any woman between the ages of 10 and 50 after the Supreme Court lifted the ban on the entry of women of menstrual age, in September. Since then several women have tried entering the temple but were forced to turn back.
A member of Lalitha's family confirmed to TNM that Lalitha's feet were injured in the incident.
After the ordeal, Lalita told reporters that she was relieved to come through the incident. ‚ÄúThe moment we reached Sannidhanam, we were stopped by a group of people who started protesting, claiming that I am not above 50 years of age. They started physically attacking us. However, eventually, after police verification, we were allowed inside. I did not file a complaint against those who attacked me,‚ÄĚ she said.
Lalitha‚Äôs husband told the media that Lalitha and her two sisters had decided to go to the temple after right wing leaders including Sasikala teacher assured them that they can go to the temple. ‚ÄúWe were told that the women, who were all above 50 can go to the temple. We would not have wanted to go if we knew these were the circumstances,‚ÄĚ he said.
A few hours later, the women were allowed to go to the sannidhanam.
The police have registered an FIR against 150 unidentified men under sections 143, 144, 341, 308, 354 rw 149 IPC, 188 and 150.