From the beginning, Sabarimala temple is one of the most respected temples of Kerala.
It is known that in the historic times it was controlled by the Buddhist tribes. Later the Hindu influence turned them in their favour.
It is believed that the lord of the temple, Lord Ayyappan turned to Hinduism. Now it belongs to the Travancore Devaswom Board who is one big money spinner. There are plenty of stringent rules of the temple which the pilgrims follow subconsciously.
One of the rules is that women are not allowed in the temple if they are on a menstrual cycle. I know, I know, you must be feeling which temple allows women on their periods according to our rituals and customs. But this is one of those temples which strictly prohibit women from entering the temple while they are on their periods. Maybe it’s because the pilgrims need to fast for 41 days and need to travel a lot on foot to reach the actual temple. Though it is a valid reason to discourage women from going but it surely cannot be treated as a rule.
Another ridiculous rule is that women between the age of 10 and 50 are not allowed inside the temple. A woman who wants to enter the Sabarimala temple must turn 51 first. Weird! Although Kerala’s elderly VIPs often make trips to the temple without being stopped. There is no valid reason that I can think of to support this rule. There is no problem in abiding by the rules of cleanliness and restricted areas and rules but they have to make sense.
It is believed that Lord Ayyappan was a bachelor and did not like sexually active women. He was a motherless kid and his step mother ill-treated him. He left his girlfriend and didn’t have much contact with the female population. Maybe the hatred for women has come down generations resulting in the non-sense rules of the temple. In 1987, a Kannada actress, Jayamala, was accused of disobeying the rules and disrespecting the God. The management claimed that she had touched the idol and had insulted the God. She was slammed by the media and was portrayed disrespecting the Lord. The saddest part is that the feminists of Kerala didn’t raise their voice in this situation. Feminists like ex-Naxalite Ajitha think only adultery as anti-women. This was something new in the Sabarimala temple.
As we progress in most fields, is it possible to overcome the absurd rules of the religion and rise as a community with equality and justice? Although, the new generation is well off than their ancestors in the department of equality, they won’t reach their full potential unless the aged impose their views on the influential minds of the youth.
About the Author: This article is contributed by Siddharth Deshpande, our intern.