On Tuesday millions of women in Kerala, India, joined hands, creating what they called a “women’s wall” to protest the Sabarimala Temple’s ban on women of menstruating age. The temple is one of India’s holiest sites, and the practice of banning women from entering dates back hundreds of years. For 15 minutes, women formed a nearly 385-mile–long human chain to support the end of the practice.
Two women, both in their 40s, entered the temple for the first time on Wednesday, following the protest. Bindu and Kanaka Durga walked into the temple with the support of police protection. After their visit, the temple was reportedly closed for an hour so that priests could purify the space. Following their visit more protests broke out, and police used tear gas to disperse crowds.
In September India’s Supreme Court struck down the ban, which included women from the ages of 10 to 50, according to CNN. In the months following, the temple became a site of protest from religious conservatives who disagreed with the ruling. India’s ruling Hindu nationalist party, the Bharatiya Janata party, strongly opposed the decision and are calling for a reversal of the decision, according to The Guardian. Meanwhile, the ruling party of Kerala, which is the Communist Party of India (Marxist), supported the end of the ban.
“There were so many women and there wasn’t even space for women to extend arms,” Subhashini Ali said to CNN. Ali was a protester and member of CPI(M). “If they had extended their arms, the length of the wall would have increased so much that women would be falling in the Arabian Sea.”