Sabarimala is back in news again. Five judges of the Supreme Court are hearing more than 60 petitions that urge a rethink of the verdict that made it possible. In September, the court had opened the temple doors to women between the ages of 10 and 50. Thus put an end to the traditional ban. But only two women have managed to enter the temple since.
Have a look at the highlights of that verdict and it’s after effects –
In September last year, the top court, in a majority four-one judgment, had ruled that girls and women between 10 and 50 years of age can enter the Sabarimala temple. they added “the practice of age restriction can’t be treated as an essential religious practice”.
Justice Indu Malhotra, however, was of the view that it was not for courts to determine which religious practices are to be struck down. She explains again of excepting issues of social evils like ‘Sati’.
The annual pilgrimage season, got over by the second half of January. The season was riddled with protests that often turned violent. The devotees of Lord Ayyappa, a deity believed to be celibate, tried every trick to stop women from entering the shrine.
Today, one of the petitioners told the court that the celibate nature of the presiding deity, Lord Ayyappa, supports exclusionary practices. “Devotees going to Sabrimala can’t question the customs and have to accept it… Untouchability has nothing to with the custom,” the petitioner said.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said it was his duty to implement the top court’s order. It triggered a political war between the state government and the opposition BJP and the Congress.
Two women, who eventually managed to enter the Sabarimala temple, faced severe backlash. In January two women below fifty years of age, entered the temple. Kanaka Durga and Bindhu Ammini had walked into the shrine before dawn, escorted by the police. They were threatened and one of them was even attacked, allegedly by her mother-in-law, and turned out of the house.The Kerala Police was told to provide round-the-clock security to the two women after they approached the Supreme Court seeking protection.
The Kerala government had told the Supreme Court last month that as many as 51 women of menstrual age entered the temple since the verdict. But controversy erupted after some women on the list were found to be aged above 50 years and at least one of them turned out to be a man.
On Monday, Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran informed the Kerala assembly that only two women of reproductive age had offered prayers at the Lord Ayyappa shrine. He quoted a report of the temple executive officer this time.
Congress chief Rahul Gandhi, he earlier supported the entry of women to the temple, Sabarimala. Now he changed his opinion.He said there was also merit in the argument of traditionalists. Admitting to the change in his stance, Mr Gandhi said he would not “be able to give an open and shut position on this”.