A local official from Prime Minister Narendra Modi's ruling party called for protests after two women entered a Hindu temple in Kerala on Wednesday, defying a centuries-old ban on women of menstruating age entering the shrine.

Bharatiya Janata Party's Kerala state president PS Sreedharan Pillai called it 'a conspiracy by the atheist rulers to destroy the Hindu temples,' and said his party will 'support the struggles against the destruction of faith by the Communists.'

"Let all the devotees come forward and protest this," Pillai told local television news channels.

Two women reported to be in their 40s, entered the Sabarimala temple in Kerala in the early hours of Wednesday, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said, raising fears of a backlash from conservative Hindu groups.

sabarimala pilgrimage
Devotees on their way to SabarimalaARUN SANKAR/AFP/Getty Images

In September, the Supreme Court had ruled that the ban be lifted but Hindu devotees at the temple had defied the court and blocked attempts by women to go to the temple since then. It is unclear how the women managed to get into the temple and avoid devotees who were guarding it.

Sabarimala women entry
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