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To enter or not to enter Sabarimala - how about we leave the decision to women? But the patriarchy has never trusted women to make their own choices!
To enter or not to enter Sabarimala – how about we leave the decision to women? But the patriarchy has never trusted women to make their own choices!
I get it! India is a democracy and citizens are free to express their opinions. However, does it mean people can disregard judgments passed by the Supreme Court, the apex court of the country? The latest instance of restlessness caused by the Supreme Court’s decision on Sabarimala has put the limelight back on two nemeses of our society – patriarchy and sexism.
In the year 1991, the Kerala High Court prohibited women of menstruating age from entering Sabarimala temple. The decision was clearly against two fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution to all irrespective of caste, creed or gender – the ‘Right to Equality’ and the ‘Right to freedom of religion’.
In 2016, a PIL made lawmakers revisit the hot topic, and finally, in September 2018, the Supreme Court reversed a ban on women’s entry to the temple of Sabarimala. Alas, the thoughtful and reasonable verdict was not the end of this story; rather, it was the start to a new, chaotic one.
It is almost two months now; however, despite the verdict, no woman of reproductive age group has successfully entered the temple premises. Many devotees had set up camps overnight for the initial few days after the ban was lifted, in their mission to protect the sanctity of Lord Ayyappa’s shrine. I am amazed at the lengths people would go to in the name of faith; or is it Sexism and Patriarchy at play?
According to popular belief, Lord Ayyappa’s shrine remained off-limits for women mainly because he was celibate. And apparently, any woman of menstruating age could have distracted him from attaining his ultimate goal. Hence, it was decided that women who bled needed to be punished across generations.
Leave men aside, the popular belief that persisted over centuries would have been non-existent, if all women saw the flaw in the idea that deprives them of visiting an abode of god on the basis of the fact that they are not ‘PURE’ enough. But there exist many women who really are in sync with folklore and would rather respect tradition then exercise their fundamental rights.
For instance, the ‘Ready To Wait’ (2016) campaign was initiated by female devotees of Lord Ayyappa from India. It is however, their choice to make! Like I mentioned previously as well, everyone is entitled to their opinions. Let us not force our beliefs upon each other, especially in the name of religion. Patriarchy and sexism are twisted as it is; let us not get them intertwined with faith.
In short, it doesn’t seem appropriate for a society to restrict women’s entry to a sacred place just because the scriptures say so (figuratively). Just for a second, assume that women today could make the right call and we leave the decision “to enter or not to enter” to them alone…
As a responsible society, we must focus on bigger issues at hand, for instance – a clean environment, climate change, poverty, and illiteracy among others. Wouldn’t you agree?
Gangotri is a versatile writer and editor with a Master's degree in Economics. Alongside her literary pursuits, she has also cultivated a love for cooking, experimenting with flavors and techniques in the kitchen. She read more...
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