Several prominent women from various walks of life have expressed their opinion on the Sabarimala judgement
In 2006, debate over entry on women who are within the menstruating age into Sabarimala had arose after Kannada actress Jayamala made claims of entering the temple in 1987. In the same year, Astrologer P Unnikrishnan Pannikkar and team had asked a ‘Deva Prashna’ (question to deity) to know if any women of menstruating age had entered his Sanctum. The answer from the deity was in the affirmative, giving credence to Jayamala’s claims. Following this, a suo moto case was filed against Jayamala by Kerala police for disrespecting the religious traditions of the land. Though the High Court dismissed the charges, the manufactured debate over entry into Sabarimala raged on. Organiser brings in the reactions of several prominent females working and contributing in different areas across the society.
Hundreds of women protest SC verdict permitting entry for women of all ages into Sabarimala-
I am #ReadyToWait
“I am a practising Hindu Woman. How can my Right to practice my Religion be subservient to a non-practitioner’s Right against discrimination? The believer woman that I am (Judgement or no Judgement), I am #ReadyToWait. The progressive thinker/activist/feminist/Person of other faiths by definition shouldn’t want to go to #Sabarimala, where the presiding deity is a male or any other temple for that matter.
Respecting traditions is a by-product of the faith in those Practices. When the debate is among unequals (Believers & Non-believers), who is this judgement for? Whom does it empower? It’s a 5000 year old tradition Vs False sense of persecution. And who better to spell it out than the lone Woman Judge, Justice Indu Malhotra!”
- Smt. Malavika Avinash, Actor, Writer & Lawyer
Why force Only One or Two Temple?
“This judgement was based on right to pray but has not taken many other aspects into consideration. Just as any organised society or country has its own constitution, ancient temples also have their constitution. It is based on the ‘sthala mahatme’ which includes history, importance to the deity and location. Traditions of Sabarimala are based on ‘Boothanatha Upakhyana’ which recommend certain rituals and practices which have been followed for at least 1800 years. It is not something that has cropped up suddenly. Few temples are meant for women and some are only for men which depends on the deity there. In Sabaraimla, Ayyappa is a celibate and as per Puranas it is a custom for women of menstruating age not to visit Him. This aspect has not been taken into consideration. We have become a ‘rights’ prone society and not a duty bound one. By giving the right to pray, you are taking away the right of the deity of the place. We also need to question if the women who want to enter are really believers like the devotees? Why force only one or two temples when there are thousands and lakhs of temples where both men and women are allowed without restrictions?"
- Dr SR Leela Former MLC, Professor and Head, Department of Sanskrit, NMKRV College for Women, Bengaluru and noted writer and author
Sinful to Interfere in Century-Old Eco-system
“Sabarimala pilgrimage and maalaadhaarana vrata related, is a praadeshika-saamuhika-vrata (regional and community vow). This is prescribed for men of all ages and women above or below the menstruating age. The vow is primely that of brahmacharya and abstaining from all forms of bhoga. Brahmacharya implicates that the spouses are also a part of the vrata! If the menfolk practice continence to go to Sabarimala, women also ‘participate equally’ in the same vow, by supporting the brahmacharya and ‘NOT going’ with their men to the shrine. Thus if ‘going to Sabarimala under vows’ is a religious act, maintaining physical distance from their menfolk and not going to Sabarimala is also a part of the vow. This is quite very clear in the minds of all men and women of our land. Such vows of self-control are very much a part of every hindu household. Thus, there is no scope for conflict or agitation at all.
But here are these petitioners, obviously the ‘Hindu-phobics’, remote controlled by the left and church, who are screaming against this centuries-old ecosystem only for their sadistic pleasure. The motive is very evident—to trivialise and disturb the unbroken practice of maalaa-dharanam and yatra vow of Sabarimala vrata and weaken the Hindu morale.
Considering that any vrata is volition, a voluntary act and absolutely personal, nobody can interfere in it. And in the case of Sabarimala, the vrata is a saamuhika vrata, a community vow driven by the personal desire and decision of thousands of vratadhaarins (the performers of the vratam) collectively. The devotees of Lord Ayyappa have by choice and hardship built the shrine, designed the eco-system, by funding and regulating all by themselves. The prevailing norms of temples traditions have not been just the ‘voice of the menfolk’, but also that of their women folk at all times. Considering the vow of unconditional practice of continence on the sacred hill, only menfolk and women above or below the menstruating age go there as maalaadhaarins. This is in harmony with the Sthala Puranam and brahmacharya norms related to the maalaadhaarana-vrata. Countless devotees voluntarily obey and respect this tradition, without any feel of discrimination.
It is absolutely a sin to interfere in a century old ecosystem, which intends no harm or discrimination of any kind towards anyone. Moreover, it is the pious bhaktas of Sabarimala who have built and maintained this extraordinary shrine since centuries by offering their tanu-mana and dhana. These Hinduphobics who have certainly never contributed anything in any form, and have no respect for the sthala-niyama (local norms) have thus no right to interfere in the temple traditions.”
- Dr Arathi VB, Founder & Head at Vibhu Academy and Consultant Faculty at ACT Bengaluru, Noted writer and speaker
No Gender Discrimination in Religious Practices
“We have to respect the court’s verdict. Need for such a case itself is the question. There is nothing called as gender discrimination in religious practices. We have to see if there was discrimination at all and if for whom. These are based on age old practices and nothing is meaningless in Hindu customs. Certain course corrections are needed but in this case I don’t see any family oriented women or a devotee concerned about the customs and traditions in Sabarimala. ”
- Dr. Thangam Meganathan , Chairperson, Rajalakshmi Group of Institutions, Chennai