The decision triggered a public outcry in Kerala, with some female devotees saying it was more important to uphold religious tradition than be swayed by notions of gender equality. Local television reports said college students and women journalists were stopped about 20 km away from the temple, which is ensconced in the mountain ranges of the Western Ghats.
The iron gates of Sabarimala temple opened Wednesday for the first time since the Supreme Court allowed women of menstrual age to enter the shrine but by all indications none from the "banned" age group could make it to its hallowed precincts amid a welter of protests and violent clashes.
The fundamentalist Hindu Shiv Sena party, a staunch ally of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party-led federal government, backs the campaigners.
Hours ahead of opening of the hill shrine for the monthly prayer, police said they would not let anyone block the movement of devotees. Police intervened and escorted them to safety. Protesters tried to forcibly stop incoming vehicles to check if they carried women.
The situation on the ground, however, seemed to belie the claims of the police.
Crew of various TV news channels were asked to leave the place.
A huge roar would go up if they found someone.
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Rahul Easwar, an attorney for the temple, appealed to the female devotees not to enter the temple and give temple authorities until next week to file a review petition in the Supreme Court.
"No one should be able to change the way this temple has functioned for centuries", he said.
"When democracy and the Supreme Court order are being defied by protesters, I have come with the firm intent of visiting Sabarimala", Libi, who uses only one name, told the media. A young woman from Kerala's Alappuzha, identified as Liby, was stopped at the Pathanamthitta bus terminal.
He added that several "scientists" had concurred with the view that the "positive energy" in a temple can be polluted by the entry of menstruating women.
The Sabarimala chief priest, Kandararu Maheshwararu Tantri, 25, warned this week that "anger could easily escalate into violence if a few egotistical women try to enter" the temple.
Around 500 police personnel, including women, have been deployed in Nilackal to ensure a safe passage to pilgrims to the Lord Ayyappa temple. "This is just a very old custom the supreme court should not have interfered with". The operators of a temple in the northwestern state of Rajasthan believe the Hindu god Kartikeya curses women who enter the temple, instead of blessing them.
Industries minister E P Jayarajan, the de facto in charge of the government in the absence of chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who is in UAE to mobilise funds for post-flood reconstruction, said the state was duty-bound to implement the SC order.