Right-wing Hindu groups attacked women journalists at an Indian hill temple on Wednesday, trying to prevent women of menstrual age entering for the first time in centuries, despite the presence of hundreds of police.The Sabarimala temple in the southern state of Kerala has been the cause of tension since India's top court ruled last month that banning some women from entering infringed the right to worship.
Hardline Hindu groups have threatened to commit mass suicide to prevent women from entering in a cultural battle between the Supreme Court, that has recently delivered landmark judgments legalizing gay sex and adultery, and traditional bodies that still hold sway in a deeply religious country.
The Hindu groups, that include Shiv Sena, a former ally of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party, say the prohibition on women of menstrual age entering is required to appease the temple's chief deity, Ayyappan, depicted as a yoga-practicing God considered eternally celibate by followers.Kerala's Communist government, that runs the state along secular lines, has pledged to uphold the court ruling. It said it would enforce the court ruling, deploying 500 extra police to ensure free access to the remote complex reached by an uphill trek that takes several hours. But some female worshippers have so far been prevented from proceeding towards the temple site, which is expected to open to worshippers for the first time since the court decision.
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