A board that oversees an ancient Hindu hill temple in southern India said yesterday it now favoured allowing women of menstruating age to enter the temple, reversing its previous support for a centuries-old ban.
The Sabarimala temple has been the site of tension since India's Supreme Court ruled in late September to end a ban on women and girls aged from 10-50 from entering.
The Travancore Devaswom Board, which administers the temple, had refused to abide by the court ruling and thousands of devotees have blocked attempts by women to visit the site.
The board said yesterday it would now abide by the court ruling.
"After the Supreme Court judgement, we discussed a lot. We realise that we should respect the judgement of the court," lawyer Rakesh Dwivedi told Reuters after a board hearing on the matter.
The temple in Kerala state pays homage to the celibate god Ayyappan and draws millions of worshippers each year. It is one of only a few in India which had barred entry to girls and women between the ages of 10 and 50.
After the Supreme Court ruling, Hindu groups physically blocked younger women from entering the temple, though a number managed to get in with help from police.
But on January 2, Bindu Ammini, 40, a law lecturer at Kerala's Kannur University, and Durga succeeded in entering the temple through a side entrance in the middle of the night. Some other women have claimed they have got into the temple since then.