Forming a 385-mile human chain, protestors joined together on Tuesday to build a “women’s wall” stretching across the Indian state of Kerala.

They were fighting for their right to enter the Sabarimala Temple, one of the holiest sites in Hinduism. Last September, the Supreme Court in India overturned a centuries-old rule that banned “menstruating women,” defined as any woman between ages 10 and 50, from entering the temple.


Despite the official ruling, when more than a dozen women tried to enter the sacred site this past fall, violent mobs blocked the trail to the temple. Even the official site for the Sabarimala Temple still reinforces: “Girls who have not yet attained puberty and elderly women who have reached menopause are allowed entry into the temple.”

Spurred by the lack of change, millions of women came together to stand up to those fighting against the updated policy. While organizers initially predicted a turnout of about three million people for the New Years Day event, BBC reports that more than 5 million women—along with men and transgender allies—banned together to stand up for women.

The massive gathering spanned an area nearly double the distance from New York to D.C. In comparison, the 2017 Women’s March — the largest single-day protest in U.S. history — drew about a million protestors.

Politician Jameela Prakasam said of attending the demonstration, “This is for showing the women folk that this is your right.” Trupti Desai, a women’s rights activist, shared a similar sentiment: “It is a victory of the movement of equality and it is a victory of women power.”

“This is a great way of saying how powerful women are, and how we can empower ourselves and help each other,” Kavita Das, a young demonstrator, told the BBC. “Of course, I support the move to allow women of all ages into the temple. I don’t think tradition or any kind of backwardness should stop women.”


And their voices were heard. On Wednesday, Bindu Ammini, 40, and Kanaka Durga, 39, made history, becoming the first women to worship at the shrine, according to the BBC.

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