Milords! What the judiciary must know before any final verdict on Sabarimala

By Vineetha Menon published on November 13, 2018


Real women devotees of Lord Ayyappa in Kerala and South India have never felt that their right to pray at Sabarimala temple has ever stood violated. Therefore the recent Supreme Court verdict has put in angst and rage, the entire Hindu community of Kerala.  The verdict pronounced lifting of a ban on entry of women into the temple, “giving women equal rights to pray at Sabarimala” and and “sought to end any kind of gender discrimination”. However, when in actuality, there existed no ban based on gender; the judgment has served in infringing the fundamental rights of the entire Hindu community in offering prayers according to specified customs. There is no jubilation among Hindu women devotees; on the contrary they are distressed. The top Court’s decree is evidently from a feminist viewpoint and stands marked as yet another victorious chapter in the long string of episodes that have been scripted by Left-Jihadi-Evangelist nexus in destroying Sabarimala since yore. In short, other than Hindu community, the verdict has provided relief to the breaking India forces.

Sree Dharma Sastha Temple, Sabarimala does not place any kind of ban on the entry of women. Instead women between the age of 10 and 50 are denied entry owing to the bhava of the presiding deity. Every temple has its own way of performing sacred rites and rituals, based on the bhava of the deity, with its own constitution framed at the time of consecration of its presiding deity.  This includes the temple at Sabarimala, where Lord Ayyappa, the presiding deity is a Naishtika Brahmachari. Contrary to the statements of “biological factor being the reason why women between the age of 10 and 50 are denied entry” which are being given wide credence by the nexus that aims the destruction of sanctity of Sabarimala, menstruation is far from the real reason. It has never been discrimination against women, but a willing gesture by women devotees of Lord Ayyappa, in abstaining from entering the shrine from the age of 10, owing to the Lord’s bhava. The abstinence is maintained till the age of 50, an approximate time that women cross their youth. However, they continue being devotees of Lord Ayyappa, observing a 41 day vrata or set of extensive austerities along with the men folk (who assume the title of Swamy during the 41 day period). The vrata includes vow of celibacy for these 41 days. So when the male member undertakes the vrata, the entire family joins and participates in the observance.

The 41 days vrata has deeper significance when viewed from spiritual and social angles. Being humans, when one is prone to deep exposure of various vices, a vrata serves to purge oneself physically, mentally and above all, spiritually. Here, the 41 days of Mandala vrata, which includes abstinence from sex, is considered one of the most austere devotional efforts in the world. Known as Ayyappa vrata or Mandala vrata, it initiates a Swamy in undertaking the pilgrimage to Sabarimala, by seeking to attain purity at all levels- of the body, mind and soul. Therefore, the entire family including womenfolk, by ensuring that the 41 days vrata goes unimpeded and unimpaired, undergoes a process of cleansing, which is very important from an angle of societal building. It is the assurance of a Hindu undergoing spiritual renaissance, which he knows is the root of character building and thereby nation building. The Court verdict serves to break the very sanctity of vrata, an age old Hindu custom, by permitting the entry of womenfolk of all ages, into the temple. One wonders if the Court will have similar verdicts in connection with similar litigations, if filed regarding religious austerities of other religious communities. The Court that spoke of gender discrimination, post verdict, has in reality initiated discrimination, by denying Hindu womenfolk, their rights to worship the appropriate and desirable way.

The current episode can be seen as being part of the larger unending saga that aims at the destruction of Sabarimala temple, which began at the dawn of twentieth century, with the setting ablaze of the temple by Christian missionaries in 1950.  The Kesava Menon Commission Report in connection with the Sabarimala Temple Arson case throws light on the unifying strength of the ancient temple. Even at a time, when untouchability prevailed in India, the temple at Sabarimala served to unite the Hindu masses, with divisions of caste being overlooked when one entered the temple as a devotee of Lord Ayyappa. The temple thus attracted scores of Hindu devotees, not only from Kerala, but from all over South India, which was a strongly deterring factor for Christian missionaries in furthering their nefarious conversion agenda. The commission report, which lays threadbare the findings in connection with the disastrous fire that destroyed the entire temple never saw light and remains untouched by successive governments that ruled Kerala. The commission reports clearly states that the fire was intended to sabotage the temple, with the deity having umpteen destructive cuts. From then on there have been several attempts at destroying the temple, subjecting the sacred shrine to unending controversies. Prominent amongst them have been planting of a cross at Nilakkal, in order to establish the existence of a fictitious church, annual rumour mongering regarding Mullaperiyar dam at precise moment of Sabarimala season resulting in never ending altercations and wrangling between Lord Ayyappa’s devotees of Tamil Nadu and Kerala, along with other subordinate attempts like usurping of land at Aranmula under the guise of a totally unwanted airport, payasam row etc. These have ensured that Sabarimala remains the centre of controversy forever.

The latest episode of Supreme Court ruling permitting women of all ages in entering the temple is yet another move in trying to destroy the Hindu fabric of Kerala and thereby India. Sabarimala is a ‘temple for men folk’, where the customs and religious adherences are celebratory for them alone. Kerala has temples and temple ceremonies specific for women too. The 1500 year old Chengannoor Mahadeva temple where Lord Shiva and Parvati are presiding deities celebrates menstruation of the goddess. The ceremony is known as Thriputharattu and serves to bust the ‘menstruation taboo’ put forth by breaking India clan, against Hinduism. Attukal Bhagavathi temple in the capital city of Thiruvananathapuram, celebrates Pongala, where millions of women gather and perform austerities. The number of women who gather, has been increasing by leaps and bounds, with the ceremony finding its way into Guinness Book of World Record as ‘Largest gathering of women’. The ancient Mannarasala Sree Nagaraja temple has ritualistic observances headed by a woman- the Vallya Amma. Chakkulathu Kavu in Kottayam district conducts the annual ritual of Naari Pooja or worshipping women, in the month of December. Initiated by the head priest of the temple, thousands of women are worshipped during the ceremony. Kandamangalam Sree Rajarajeswari Temple, Cherthala also has a similar celebratory ceremony. India abounds in such temples and temple ceremonies, which speak eloquence about the beauty of Hinduism. However, no one from the opposite sex sees it as infringement of their fundamental rights in praying. While the women devotees of Lord Ayyappa in Kerala and other South Indian states stand aggrieved, the breaking India activists and feminists, who are clueless about the temple at Sabarimala and Lord Ayyappa, are the ones who are in celebratory mode. Real women devotees, who stand solidly by abiding the age old customs and traditions of Sabarimala, continue to pursue the #ReadyToWait campaign.

As for the Left government, who has actively trailed and hunted the case at Supreme Court to ensure that women of all ages enter the temple, the agenda is different. Communism has always been anathema to anything Hindu and thereby destruction of Hindu values and traditions is what they have always aimed at. Their pursuing the case at the Apex Court has ensured that one more sacred place belonging to the Hindu community stands desecrated. If interests of the devotees were what they wanted, the government would have chosen to arrive at a consensus after taking into account, the opinion of devotees. The larger section of distressed devotees feels deceived by the false petitioners and the Leftist government of Kerala that left no stone unturned in furthering every move that proceeds to destroy the sanctity of the temple.

In fact, Justice Indu Malhotra, the only woman in the five-judge bench of the Supreme Court that ruled that women of all ages must be allowed in Sabarimala temple, gave a dissenting judgment. According to her, “In a pluralistic society comprising of people with diverse faiths, beliefs and traditions, to entertain PILs challenging religious practices followed by any group, sect or denomination, could cause serious damage to the constitutional and secular fabric of the country.” She further added that religions could prescribe specific ethical codes and ritualistic ceremonies that ought to be protected, being an integral part of the particular religion. The judge has observed that “religious practice of restricting the entry of women between the ages of 10 to 50 years, is in pursuance of an ‘essential religious practice’ followed by the Respondents. The said restriction has been consistent, followed at Sabarimala Temple for years.”

The patriarchal Court, under the guise of ensuring women’s rights have ignored the rights and pleas of scores of devotees and ensured that justice actually never prevails. Judiciary must understand that a land’s traditions are not based on textual authority. Changing deep rooted traditions for appeasing a handful is akin to cultural genocide. Our Puranas have umpteen examples of Indra sending celestial nymphs to seduce rishis, in order to break their penance, for Indra knew the power of unobstructed penance.  Breaking India forces know the unifying power of Sabarimala on the Hindu fabric. Therefore every step that goes towards desecrating and de-sanctifying the temple turns into a feather in the anti-national cap.

 

Vineetha is a devoted nationalist and contributes to nation building by being a socio political writer and content editor. She has worked with a leading television channel, popular magazines, web portals and blogs. She is one of the coordinators of ‘I Support NaMo’ third party campaign, which effectively worked towards Lok Sabha elections of 2014. She is also part of the team that manages social media activities of many prominent leaders, along with nationalistic portals. Vineetha served as teacher and English language trainer before embarking on a career as writer. A staunch animal lover, her areas of interest are dress designing, arts and crafts, animal welfare and women empowerment. Vineetha currently resides in Bengaluru.

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