India Women Claim the Right to Equality and Prayer

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For the first time in the history of India, two women about 40 years old managed to enter the Hindu temple of Sabarimala, Kerala and pray in its “sancta sanctorum”–the inner part of the temple accessible only to men. Last September the country’s Supreme Court abolished the ban that prohibited access to this temple to women of childbearing age. To affirm their right to equality and prayer, more than 3.5 million Indian women poured into the streets to form a human chain 620 km. (385 miles) long. They did not carry any symbols of violence in their hands but instead bright lights, like the offerings that are brought to Hindu temples. Millions of women and men throughout the country manifested strong solidarity with the women, in spite of vigorous protests from religious fundamentalists.