WOMEN accessed the Sabarimala shrine as late as 1990, with even films being shot there. It was in the late 1980s that a PIL was filed by one S Mahadevan complaining that some celebrity women were being given access to the shrine: the Kerala High Court upheld the petition and banned the entry of all females between the ages of 10 and 50. There is evidence that the Queen of Travancore visited the shrine in 1939, and of choroonu ceremonies (first meal eating ceremony for children) where the children’s mothers were present.TKA Nair, a former advisor to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, recently said that his choroonu ceremony was done at the Sabarimala temple in 1939 - with him as a baby in his mother’s lap facing the deity!
In 2006, an actress Jayamala had claimed to have visited and worshipped at the shrine in 1997: this announcement was followed by a ‘purification’ of the Sabarimala temple by the temple authorities. Incensed by the idea that any space should be considered “polluted” by the presence of women, women Supreme Court lawyers of the Indian Young Lawyers Association filed the petition challenging the ban.
At the time and since, RSS has many a time welcomed the demand to end the ban and allow women’s entry. In 2016, the RSS had specifically supported women’s entry into all shrines including Sabarimala.
Now, however, with a Left Government willing to uphold the SC verdict and women’s constitutionally guaranteed rights, the RSS and BJP are singing a different tune, wishing to make inroads in Kerala by blaming the communists and the LDF Government for what RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat calls a “brazen attack on the Hindu faith.” Bhagwat has now declared that “Decisions on religious matters should be taken in consideration with those who know the religion, like the head priests. They know the changes that need to be brought about and any decision on it needs to be made by them and nobody else.”
The RSS and many outfits with RSS links claiming to represent the Ayyappa devotees are violently attacking journalists, women, and private and public transport.
It must be noted that in marked contrast to the many state governments ruled by BJP and Congress that failed to uphold Court orders and Constitutional rights (remember the Babri Masjid and the movie Padmavat for example) and appeased violent mobs instead, the LDF Government of Kerala is making a serious effort to uphold the SC verdict.
Strangely, TV channels like Times Now and Republic which project the leader of the violent mobs at Sabarimala, Rahul Easwar, as a “historian” and “writer” and their favourite right-wing panelist, are now busy attacking the LDF Government for “contempt of Court’ and “failing to uphold” the SC order! Why do they not call out the BJP, RSS and Easwar himself for violently upholding a regressive ban in defiance of the SC verdict?!