At the Indian temple that is the focus of a battle over gender equality, Hindu hardliners are in festive mood, successful -- so far -- in their bid to keep women out.
A supreme court decision to end a ban on women of "menstruating age" -- those between 10 and 50 years -- at the Sabarimala Temple in Kerala has sparked violent demonstrations on the roads leading to the site.
Traditionalists have threatened women trying to get to the complex and have clashed with police officers sent to enforce the court's ruling.
But up at the hilltop temple, conservative Hindus are in celebratory mood.
"You talk to anyone -- men or women -- who know about this temple's history and (they) believe in it," said pilgrim Rajesh P., one of thousands queuing up to ascend the golden stairs at the shrine.
"I am happy my daughter is experiencing this", he said, carrying the customary "irrumudi" offering made of coconut and clarified butter in a cloth bag on top of his head.