Sabarimala Temple: Even After 24 Hrs, No Woman Allowed To Enter Sanctum Sanctorum Of Lord Ayyappa Shrine
Unruly scenes occurred at Nilackal, the base camp situated 20 km from Pampa and left several people bleeding and injured, as protesters hurled stones at women and tried to block their entry into the temple.
The Supreme Court’s decision to lift restrictions for women entering Central Kerala’s popular Sabarimala temple has caused the state to get divided by supporters on either side. The blazing issue for the last couple of weeks has witnessed several men and women participating in street-protests and prayer meetings by Lord Ayyappa’s devotees. Lord Ayyappa is the presiding God in the temple.
With so much going on around the state regarding the raging issue, here is how the events unfolded with time.
Why menstruating women are not allowed inside the Sabarimala temple
From centuries certain beliefs have been lingering on in our society. One reason behind menstruating women not entering the temple is that Lord Ayyappa, who is the temple deity, is considered to be a celibate, and this nature of the deity does not allow women to enter the Sabarimala temple. Even after the apex court has ruled that women of any age have to be allowed entry, many still do not go inside in fear of incurring the wrath of Lord Ayyappa.
Another reason is that girls and women from the age of 10 to 50 are considered to fall under the menstruating age, and ancient customs say that women who are menstruating are “impure” at that particular time. Hindus usually believe that women must not enter a temple while they are menstruating, and a Sabarimala temple priest had once said that since it cannot be checked whether a woman entering the temple is menstruating or not, it is best that they are barred from entering it.
These baseless customs have denied women of the menstruating age entry into the temple for centuries until the Supreme Court’s recent verdict on the same.
The Supreme Court verdict
The age-old rule that barred women of the menstruating age from entering Kerala’s Sabarimala temple has been struck down by the Supreme Court. The rule violated women’s right to equality and right to worship, said the 4-1 verdict of the Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, as reported by The Economic Times.
“We have no hesitation in saying that such an exclusionary practice violates the right of women to visit and enter a temple to freely practice Hindu religion and to exhibit her devotion towards Lord Ayyappa. The denial of this right to women significantly denudes them of their right to worship,” the court said.
A note of dissent, however, came from Justice Indu Malhotra, the only woman judge of the bench.
This ancient custom was termed as a form of “untouchability” by Justice DY Chandrachud. “Article 17 certainly applies to untouchability practices in relation to lower castes, but it will also apply to the systemic humiliation, exclusion, and subjugation faced by women,” he said.
Protests at the Sabarimala temple
Soon after the Supreme Court’s verdict, protesters began to gather to make sure women do not get entry inside it. The temple opened for the first time on Wednesday since the Supreme Court’s verdict to allow women of all ages to enter the temple. Protesters were lathi-charged by the police and as many as 200 protesters from Hindu fringe outfits and 13 policemen were injured during the protests.
Violent scenes which occurred at the base camp Nilackal left several people bleeding and injured with protesters trying to block women’s entry into the temple. Allegedly, the mob is related to Sangh Parivar outfits. Women journalists were harassed by protesters, their vehicles were damaged and equipment snatched. Even police hurled stones at protesters in Nilackal. An ugly battle between police and activists reigned since Tuesday on Nilackal-Pampa road. Violence broke out as KSRTC buses and other government vehicles were attacked by protesters. Window panes of private vehicles were also smashed, reported The Hindu.
In protest against police action in Nilackal and Pampa, a bandh was called by the Sabarimala Samrakshna Samithi on Thursday. In separate statements, the National Democratic Alliance and the BJP extended their support towards maintaining peace.
Women journalists attacked by protesters
Many media personnel, including women journalists from national news channels, were attacked by the angry mob. Vehicles were checked by protesters to ensure women were not inside. A vehicle carrying Republic TV channel crew was surrounded by the mob chanting Ayyappa slogans. They damaged the car’s windshield and heckled reporter Pooja Prasanna.
#Sabarimala: Shocking attack on Republic TV's crew, including reporter Pooja Prasanna
Posted by Republic on Tuesday, October 16, 2018
Mausami Singh, an India Today reporter, was pulled out of a bus and harassed and slapped by protesters. She was later escorted by police personnel to a police van.
Women reporters from The News Minute and CNN News18 were also attacked and beaten up. Abusive slogans were used against some of them. The mob attacked Reporter TV’s vehicle and injured reporter Rajeesh, The Hindu reported.
Later, journalists also went out on a protest march in Thiruvananthapuram, demanding strict action against the attackers.
The Logical Indian take
The Supreme Court’s positive decision to allow women of all ages to enter the Sabarimala temple has led to a new beginning. Age-old practices and customs which bear no meaning should have no existence in society. Orthodox beliefs which deprive women of their basic rights should be protested against.
Till now, several people including media personnel have been attacked savagely. Attackers who have taken law into their own hands should be punished. The Logical Indian urges authorities to look into the matter and provide victims with justice.