Sabarimala Case : Violence Interfering ‘Peace’ Amidst Worship..?

“This is a dangerous situation. Many devotees are excited after the Supreme Court’s decision. I request everyone to have patience and follow the rules of the temple. I do not support the violence heading. This may be practised by others, not the devotees.”, said Bakaul Rajivaru, head priest of the Sabrimala temple.

Inspite of the SC’s verdict, several outfits called for a day long shutdown amid ongoing protests. Heavy police security continue to be deployed in and around the temple. In the power of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s chief Pravin Togadiya the entry for women aged between 10 and 50 is still a question.

Even before the temple doors were open to devotees, visuals emerged of protests turning violent. Protesters heckled woman journalists, combed buses, stopped women from going near the temple and threw stones at police personnel.

Ground basics of the Sabrimala case :

The issues began with the Supreme Court’s verdict to allow the women aged between 10 to 50 in the temple on the ground of gender equality. According to the authority, any citizen cannot be denied equality on any grounds of religion, caste, race, sex as mentioned in article 14 and 15 of the Indian Constitution respectively.

A group of five women lawyers has challenged Rule 3(b) of the Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship (Authorisation of Entry) Rules, 1965, which authorises restriction on women “of menstruating age”. They moved the apex court after the Kerala HC upheld the centuries-old restriction, and ruled that only the “tantri (priest)” was empowered to decide on traditions.

About the Sabrimala Temple :

The shrine at Sabarimala is an ancient temple of Ayyappan. Manikandan, a prince of Pandalam dynasty, meditated at Sabarimala temple and became one with the divine. Manikandan was an avatar of Ayyappan. Sabarimala is one of the five Sastha temples founded by Lord Parasurama. The temple, dedicated to Lord Ayyappa, is one of the most famous temples in Kerala. The Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) manages the temple. It is likely that the ruling will have an impact on all temple and their customs across the country.

Kerela Government’s stand on the verdict :

Chief Justice Dipak Misra-headed Constitution bench in a 4-1 verdict said the temple rule violated their right to equality and right to worship. The state government was about to file a review petition which seems a fallacious bottom, as the Kerela Government has decided to follow the Court orders. “We have informed the Supreme Court through an affidavit that the government was ready to seek the opinion of Tantric experts and Head Priests of the temple about the allowing entry of women of all age groups. While delivering the verdict, the constitutional bench didn’t consider the merit of our affidavit. So we are going to execute the order and facilitate the entry of women who wish to visit the temple,” Chief Minister told.

In a country where the culture and traditions are given a huge significance and the existence of God itself, is debated at the same time, how does it actually matter to enter a temple and worship the deity..? Whatever position, place and situation in you pray the God, he is going to listen to, then why these protests over the entry..? When ‘Ayyapaan’ Swami is believed to be a bramhachaari, then where does a point of women moving into the premise come from..? If so, why this decision(SC verdict) is restricted to the particular temple and not to the other temples where female devotees are not allowed to infiltrate..?

With many unanswered queries, a positive argument to counter is that the Court at least is taking some steps to conquer the inequalities. Although being late and the matter being baseless, the Judiciary’s verdict is worth appreciating. It will be appreciated more undoubtedly, if the inequalities in the social sectors of education, employment, poverty, etc are eradicated on the grounds of religion, caste, creed or sex, making India developed, mature and strong nation altogether.