SC Ruling on Opening Sabarimala to Women Finds Divided Opinions
The pilgrimage of Sabarimala to worship Lord Ayyappa has been opened to women of all ages, as per a ruling by the Supreme Court. Until now, women below the age of 50 and girls older than 10 years of age were prohibited from making the pilgrimage as they were thought to be impure due to the natural phenomenon of menstruation that women experience. However, while some have hailed this as a welcome development in the realizing of equality between the sexes, there are others, men and women alike, who seem to think this is not a warranted example of social progress.
- Raman Nair, the former President of the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) expressed his chagrin at the verdict, calling it a “black day” for Sabarimala, saying, “One can speak of equality and freedom but the verdict is breaking a tradition that was in existence much before the Constitution came into effect.” Like him, the current Chief Priest of the temple, K. Rajeevaru said, “While I will respect the court’s directive, I wish tradition and culture are allowed to continue. The TDB will decide on an appeal challenging the decision.”
The original petition to allow women to worship at the temple was filed 12 years ago, but already it seems that there are people who are looking to file a review petition. Arguments against the ruling range from maintaining the culture and tradition, to honoring the legend of Lord Ayyappa and the story behind how this pilgrimage came to be. As expressed by a businessman and fervent devotee of Lord Ayyappa, C.B. Shaji, “I have been going to Sabarimala for the past 30 years and for certain I will never even dare to ask my wife if she will come with me. There is definitely a tradition and a legend associated with the temple and any woman who knows that will not go.”