09:50 GMT08 March 2021
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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Some 5 million women in the Indian southern state of Kerala formed a 620-kilometer (385-mile) human chain on Tuesday to demand equal gender rights, the India Today reported.

    The event, believed to be the largest gathering of women in the world, has been organised by the Indian left-wing coalition to counter the right wing that supports banning women of reproductive age from entering the famous Sabarimala Ayyappa temple in Kerala, according to the India Today media outlet.

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    The human chain was formed along the national highway connecting the south and the north of the state. Women held hands for five minutes, the media outlet reported.

    The move came amid the Indian Supreme Court's verdict issued at the end of September, and that put an end to the centuries-old tradition of only allowing men into the temple, pointing out that the practice violated women's constitutional rights. In wake of the verdict, a group of radical believers, under threat of violence, prevented any women aged 10-50 to even approach the temple.

    The police intervened and tried to provide women with safe passage to the shrine, resulting in clashes. The temple was closed following the incident. On November 5, it was reopened for several days.

    Sabarimala Sree Dharma Sastha Temple is one of the most holiest places in Hinduism. The temple is dedicated to the god Ayyappan, believed to be the son of Shiva and Vishnu.


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