Monday, January 18, 2016

Public Opinion on Supreme Court ruling Allowing women in Sabarimala Temple

Sabarimala is a famous Hindu pilgrim centre situated on the western ghats in the Pathanamthitta district of Kerala. This hilltop temple located near Pampa in the dense forests of the 'Sahyadri' mountain ranges is exclusively dedicated to Sree Dharma Sastha (Sri Ayyappan). Tens of thousands of devotees from many districts of India, particularly the south Indian states like Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telengana and of-course Kerala visit this shrine every year after observing rigorous fasting and abstinence for 41 days usually during the season of Mandalakalam and Makara Vilakku starting from October and ending on January 16th. 

This temple is unique in many aspects. The Sabarimala Aiyyappa Sastha temple is open to all sections of the society without any discrimination of caste, creed, religion or region. This temple shines as an epitome of religious and communal harmony in Kerala. There is a place dedicated to 'Vavar swamy' (a muslim sufi) near the sannidhanam, and a Christian Church dedicated to Apostle St Thomas on the nearby hilltop of Nilackkal. Another speciality of this temple is that it is not open throughout the year for pujas. Only on certain special seasons, devotees visit this temple for offering prayers.

Another uniqueness of this temple is that even though this temple allows men belonging to any caste, creed or religion, there is some restrictions for the female gender to go to the 'sannithanam' or the temple area. According to traditions and customs prevailing in practice for about 100 years, woman in the age-group of 10-50 are not allowed and are prohibited from entering the Sabarimala area. Girls upto 10-years of age and elderly women above 50-years are however not banned from making pilgrimages or having darsans. Some people say this is because the presiding deity Sree Iyyappan is a confirmed bachelor (nithya brahmachari) and he despises the visit of girls and women. Some others say it is because the women who have their monthly periods may make the hill unholy with such natural physical phenomenon. But those women who fight for gender equality say that both men and women are equal in the eyes of God and no god can discriminate his devotees on the basis of sex.

The recent ruling of the Supreme Court of India, responding to a compliant filed by 'the young lawyers forum' has passed a judgement allowing everybody in to Sabarimala Temple without any gender discrimination. The court observed that stopping people from entering in to a temple on the basis of gender is unjust and unacceptable as it is a violation of human rights and right to equality. This order has become a hot topic of discussion among the people belonging to various sections. While most forward thinking people and young people's organizations welcome this judgement, the orthodox people including women object to this and they want the prevailing tradition to continue. 

Some people feel that, taking many practical things into consideration like the geographical location of the temple in the thick forests, the difficult jungle path from Pampa (which is to be covered only on foot) and the narrow structure consisting of 18 steps to the sannidhanam, where thousands throng and rush for a glimpse of the statue, if young women are allowed together with the regular crowd, it may cause distraction. But for the politicians and the different parties, more than a matter of devotion, it is a just a subject of votes while for the ruling party or government it will be like opening a Pandora's box and they want to know the majority people's opinion on this issue to take a stand. But the new generation and the forward thinking people are backing the SC and striving to see that this new verdict is implemented immediately. 


  1. Well said! Fact is nailed out here! But the Seed is that People chosen wrong people as their leaders since independence or allowed the wrong persons to ride over them

  2. Rapists, murderers, corrupt politicians, everyone can enter the temple except women! All those arguments about the inaccessibility of the temple for women are not valid today. The rule should go. Religions should update themselves.

  3. Very insightful post. Well, in India, everything is politicized. Whether it be religion, sports, education, jobs and what not. Waiting for the day when people would give more importance to education than religion and make decisions that are unbiased.

  4. Women and men are equal and to prevent them from entering a house of worship because of a natural body function is wrong. The rule has to go.

  5. People choose to twist things according to their own convenience. Devotees are supposed to be fasting for 41 days but these days they have reduced to a handful of days. Who mandated that?

    Swamy Vivekananda had said always preached that people ought to practice spiritualism rather than rituals. Rituals change based on whims and fancies of people. It is only in the last 50 odd years that this nonsense practice of banning women started. It is high time to ban such a nonsense rule and the Hon'ble Supreme Court is right in doing it.

  6. I am not sure if one should demand entry into a male only temple. Temples are not sightseeing spots. These are place of penance and worship. If male monks have to maintain certain strict spiritual discipline one much respect it. It is not a question of equality, it is a question of religious practice.


Your comments are welcome on the above topic. Please do not spam.