'Standing firm, still living in Kerala,' says Kanaka Durga on 5th anniversary of Sabarimala women entry

A screengrab from a video showing Bindu Ammini and Kanaka Durga at Sabarimala on January 2, 2019.

Five years after the Sabarimala women-entry episode, Kanaka Durga, one of the two women who caused an uproar by reaching the Lord Ayyappa temple defying traditional custom, has revisited the historic day with a social media post.

"That on the morning of January 2, 2019, two women reached Sannidhanam might not seem important to those pretending to be progressive reformers. But as a woman, it was a moment of great pride. And I continue to live in Kerala having not taken a step back from that position," Kanaka Durga wrote on her Facebook page.

According to reports, before dawn on January 2, 2019, Kanaka Durga and Bindu Ammini, climbed Sabarimala, escorted by six male personnel of the Kerala Police. Around 3.48 am, the two women, clad in black attire, which is traditionally worn by Sabarimala pilgrims, had darshan.

The police later released a video of the women at Sabarimala. Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan confirmed the development later on the day. "It is true that they climbed. I have said before that the police will give protection to those who climb," Vijayan told media persons.

The two women had attempted to reach Sabarimala a few weeks ago, on December 24, but had to back off due to protests. They were armed by a Supreme Court verdict.

Sabarimala Temple
Lord Ayyappa Temple at Sabarimala. Photo: Nikhilraj P/Manorama

On September 28, 2018, a Supreme Court bench led by then Chief Justice Dipak Misra held that the prohibition on women of menstruating years (till 50 years) from entering the Sabarimala Temple was unconstitutional. The five-judge bench had ruled by a 4:1 majority with Justice Indu Malhotra dissenting. Justices A M Khanwilkar, Rohinton Nariman and DY Chandrachud (now CJI) were the other members of the bench.

The issue of the entry of women of menstruating age to the Hindu shrine situated in the Pathanamthitta district of Kerala is a long-standing one. According to the Supreme Court Observer, the exclusion of women was first challenged at the High Court of Kerala in 1991.

The entry of Kanaka Durga, a native of Angadipuram in Malappuram and Bindu Ammini, an advocate, had caused a furore. Hindu organisations organised several hartals and protest marches in Kerala.

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