India’s top court cleared the way on Saturday for a Hindu temple to be constructed at a hotly disputed holy site, in a huge victory for Hindu nationalists under Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The Supreme Court ruled that the site in Ayodhya in northern India, where Hindu mobs destroyed a 460-year-old mosque in 1992, must be handed over to a trust to oversee the construction of a Hindu temple, subject to conditions.
A separate piece of land in Ayodhya would be given over to Muslim groups to build a new mosque, the court ruled in a historic judgement aimed at ending a bitter and decades-old legal and sectarian battle.
India’s Supreme Court on Friday ordered southern Kerala state to provide “round-the-clock” security to two women who enraged conservatives by entering one of Hinduism’s holiest temples earlier this month.
The court in September overturned a ban on women aged between 10 and 50 from entering the hilltop Sabarimala temple, but the devotees refused to accept the ruling and prevented female worshippers from entering.
News that two women had managed to enter the shrine on January 2 triggered days of violent protest, with one person killed and dozens injured in clashes with police that saw buses torched and bombs hurled.
The women, Bindu Ammini and Kanakadurga, went in hiding and later approached the top court, claiming their lives were in danger.
“Having heard the lawyers we deem it appropriate to close this petition at this stage by directing Kerala to provide adequate security to both. The security would be provided round the clock,” the court said.
Kanakadurga, who goes by one name, was allegedly attacked by her mother-in-law on Tuesday after returning home and was admitted to hospital for her injuries.
She had been on the run for days with Ammini, with the pair changing safe houses more than 10 times to avoid being tracked down.
The temple — considered among the holiest in Hinduism and set on top of a hill in a tiger reserve — receives millions of pilgrims a year.
It is dedicated to the celibate deity Ayyappa, and followers believe letting in women of menstruating age goes against his wishes.
It is one of the few Hindu temples with restrictions on the entry of women.
The Supreme Court is expected to hear legal challenges to its September order overturning the ban on women entering Sabarimala next week.
Archaeologists in Mexico have found the first temple to the pre-Hispanic deity Xipe Totec, a god of fertility and war who was worshipped by sacrificing and skinning captives.
Evidence indicates that priests ritually sacrificed their victims on one of the temple’s two circular altars, then flayed them on the other and draped themselves in their skin, Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History said in a statement.
Historians have long known that Xipe Totec (“the flayed god”) was worshipped by numerous peoples across what is now central and western Mexico and the Gulf coast.
But the discovery — made among the ruins of the Ndachjian-Tehuacan archeological site in the central state of Puebla — is the first time a temple dedicated to the god has been found, the institute said.
The artefacts uncovered at the site include three stone sculptures of Xipe Totec: two skinned heads and a torso, whose back is covered in engravings representing the sacrificial skins worn by the god.
“Sculpturally speaking it’s a very beautiful piece. It measures approximately 80 centimeters (30 inches) tall and has a hole in the belly, which according to historical sources is where a green stone was placed to ‘bring it to life’ for ceremonies,” said Noemi Castillo Tejero, the lead archaeologist on the project.
The skulls measure about 70 centimeters tall and weigh some 200 kilograms (440 pounds).
The temple would have been used from around the year 1000 until about 1260, the institute said. The Spanish takeover of Mexico began in 1519 with the arrival of the conquistador Hernan Cortes.
The institute said Xipe Totec was one of the most important gods in pre-Hispanic Mexico, and was worshipped in a ceremony called Tlacaxipehualiztli, which in the indigenous Nahuatl language means “to wear the skin of the flayed one.”
Sacrificial victims were killed either through gladiatorial combat matches or by being shot with arrows, then flayed to glorify Xipe Totec, it said.
Their skins were then buried at the foot of the altars.
Two holes filled in with earth were found in front of the altars at the Ndachjian-Tehuacan site, it said.