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Sabarimala Verdict: Do Women Really Want It?

The author shares an opinion piece about the ongoing Sabarimala debate in the wake of the recent Supreme Court verdict which tries to understand the everyday Malayali woman who is educated, independent and conservative at the same time.

The author shares an opinion piece about the ongoing Sabarimala debate in the wake of the recent Supreme Court verdict which tries to understand the everyday Malayali woman who is educated, independent and conservative at the same time.

Sabarimala is no longer a mountain for spiritual pilgrimage. It has become an unwitting battleground of opinions. You need to have an opinion about the whole issue, otherwise you will be called out for a glaring lack of backbone. You either support the court’s decision and be called a ‘sakhavu’ or a ‘feminichi’ or you oppose the verdict and be called the common man with a heart full of sentiments for Ayyapa. Then there is the miniscule minority who ask for the Sabarimala land to be returned to its original owners—the adivasis. This rationale is drowned in the loudness of the two mainstream voices.

Most of the women in Kerala do not want to go to Sabarimala. This is the glaring truth that disheartens me. I do not have any data to prove this number but, it is in fact the opinion of the majority. If you ask any ‘normal’ middle class Malayali woman, they think it is an act of arrogance and profanity. I heard this from the nicest people of North Kerala and from supremely educated friends and relatives. I heard this from my driving instructor too. They cannot digest the fact that there are real Ayyapa women devotees out there who follow a different line of faith. This is proved by the very number of women devotees from outside Kerala who showed interests to scale those holy steps. How come the women in those states who are as faithful, do not find the judgment as offensive? This is the only question I throw before all the women who feel for the issue.

I could be blaming the wrong person here. I should ideally be blaming patriarchy and its age-old customs that became systematized and internalized. But, I feel that women here are more culpable. They might be thinking they are protecting faith but they are willingly playing into the hands of forces that perpetrate patriarchy—forces that they decry for other issues. This fashions a picture of a Malayali woman far different from the picture we have had to date. This Malayali woman is essentially a conundrum—she is educated and employed, knows a great deal about social evils, politics and history, knows how to balance household chores and workplace duties, and consider going to Sabarimala as an irreverent act. It is a strange irony in Kerala that the women who fight for equality in socio-economic fronts shy away when it is related to faith. This proves only one thing: that we haven’t had the ‘Enlightenment’ we claim to have had.

Hope needn’t be lost because the voices of support- although not the majority – for women entering Sabarimala come from the most unlikeliest of places. They come from the likes of my grandmother and our maid.

‘feminichi’ – a derogatory term for feminists risen in the context of the actor assault case

‘sakhavu’ – comrade

 

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About the Author

Elizebeth

I am an aspiring writer/feminist--not strictly in that order. read more...

2 Posts | 2,478 Views

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