Entry Of Women In Sabarimala - Common Man's Perspective
God doesn't discriminate people and everyone is equal before him, no matter whether you are a man or a woman or a boy or a girl | Roy Das
On Nov 23, 2016


It is often said that patriarchy is maintained and reinforced by women than by men. Often in our society it is seen that some groups of women support male dominated society’s norms and help in its maintenance. It is commonplace to see mothers impose patriarchal norms on a daughter. A mother-in-law maintains male domination in the family by making her son control her daughter-in-law. Such behavior is changing but often seen around us.

Glimpses of this mindset of were seen in a few randomly conducted descriptive interviews to find out people’s view on the issue of permitting women in Sabarimala. Yentha spoke to a few people on this topic that has had opinions as different as chalk and cheese.

Suja (40), a sales woman at a shop in the city from Manakkadu said, “I don’t agree with this. Lord Ayyappa in Sabarimala is a celibate. Men go to Sabarimala pilgrimage after undergoing strict rituals, a disciplined life and sacrifices for a month. So Sabarimala pilgrimage is the culmination of these efforts and sacrifices. They are celibates. The Ayyappa sitting in Sabarimala temple is a celibate unlike the other Ayyappas in other parts of the state. The celibate Ayyappa is unique to Sabarimala. Those women who desperately want to visit Ayyappa can go to hundreds of other Ayyappa temples in the state. The tradition of Sabarimala has to be kept intact. We have to protect and preserve its sacredness.”

Sukumari (44), a traffic warden in the city from Balaramapuram has the same opinion. She said that young women are not supposed to enter Sabarimala. “I didn’t get an opportunity to visit Sabarimala as a child but will go after I turn 55. Out of my two daughters, my younger one at the age of 7 years went to Sabarimala with her father. Women should not be allowed in Sabarimala as they will spoil its sacredness,” Sukumari added.

Santhosh (26), an engineer from Pettah said, “Women should be allowed in Sabarimala. Menstruation is the main argument against allowing women there and it is not acceptable. A clean mind is more important for a pilgrim than the notion of physical impurity of women’s body during menstruation. No gender discrimination should be there, I have seen women showing ID to prove their age in Sabarimala. It is absurd. God doesn’t discriminate people and everyone is equal before him, no matter whether you are a man or a woman or a boy or a girl. The relationship that exists between a celibate Ayyappa and Maalikappurathamma is misinterpreted. That is an age old tradition. It has to be changed for the better.”


A 42 year old employee of Devasom Board who works as Kazhakom in a temple said, “I have worked, more than a dozen times, in Sabarimala during the season. I strongly disagree with this. There are two reasons for that. The first one is the belief that Ayyappa is a celibate and traditionally the sacredness of Sabarimala has been kept by not allowing young women. It has to be maintained. The second reason is a practical one, safety and security of women pilgrims cannot be guaranteed. It is difficult to give adequate protection to young women pilgrims.”


These views clearly show that the opinions are polarized on this issue of giving entry to young women pilgrims at Sabarimala. Right wing groups, left parties, believers, atheists, women activists, social activists, intellectuals, religious authorities, Devasom Board, Sabarimala temple authorities, Hindu priests and courts have taken different positions on this issue. In a democracy and in a land besotted with traditions and beliefs, it will take a while before any consensus can be reached. Even if we reach such a consensus, it will take a long time to accept that decision especially if the decision is to allow women enter Sabarimala.

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