Millions of women formed a massive human chain in India to protest gender inequality.
The so-called “women’s wall” took place in Kerala on Tuesday, one day before two women made history in the southern state by entering a Hindu shrine that had previously banned women between the ages of 10 and 50.
Five million women are estimated to have joined hands and formed the 385-mile-long chain, which was organized by the leftist coalition government in Kerala. Officials had expected 3 million to attend, but told BBC News that 5 million turned out.
The official Twitter account of Pinarayi Vijayan, the head of the Keralan government, tweeted that the wall was a “momentous” occasion for all involved.
Suvarna Haridas, 30, who took part in the human chain, told BuzzFeed News over Twitter DM that the atmosphere was "electric."
"The excitement was palpable," she said, "Everyone truly felt like they were part of a special moment in the history of our tiny wonderful state."
Haridas, who is from Kerala, said every generation "irrespective of their religious views" was present, "from toddlers to grandmas."
Men also took part. Kerala resident Azhar said he and his male friends were saluting the women as they held hands in the city of Thrissur. "It was great," he told BuzzFeed News via Twitter DM. "That so many women got together to assert their rights was amazing!"
People celebrated the women’s achievement under the hashtag #WomensWall.
A day after the women’s wall protest concluded, news broke that two women had made history by legally entering the Sabarimala Hindu shrine for the first time.
The site has traditionally banned menstruating women, defined as any woman between ages 10 and 50, from entering for hundreds of years. However, women are believed to have sporadically entered the shrine until 1991 when the temple won a legal case formally banning them.
The ban was overruled by India’s highest court in September 2018 — but women have still struggled to enter, and the issue has become political. The ruling Hindu nationalist government, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), said the court’s ruling was an attack on their religion’s values.
But many Hindus disagree, and the women’s wall showed women of many backgrounds, ages, and beliefs supported the movement.