Devotees throng to witness Lord Ayyappa at Sannidanam in Sabarimala, Kerala. (Photo: PTI)
The Supreme Court on Monday asked why women could not be allowed to enter the Sabarimala temple. The court said women cannot be denied entry according to the Constitution of India, and asked the Kerala government to submit an affidavit and the Travancore Devaswom Board to submit its stand.
The court was hearing a petition filed by Indian Young Lawyers Association against the ban on entry of women aged between 10 and 50 into the temple.
In November 2015, the Travancore Devaswom Board president Prayar Gopalakrishnan was subject to the ire of youngsters on social media after he allegedly said women could be permitted to Sabarimala once a machine is invented to check their purity, according to reports. He was hinting at the traditional belief that equates menstruation with impurity.
In earlier litigations, the Travancore Devaswom Board, which maintains the temple, had said women in the restricted age were not allowed to enter into the temple, while the stance of the State government depends on which party rules the State.
The Left Democratic Front (LDF) led by Communist Party of India (Marxist), which was in power in the State from 2006 to 2011, argued in the Kerala High Court in favour of allowing women, regardless of their age, into the temple.
In fact, according to earlier reports, while the former Kerala Chief Minister K Karunakaran, who is an ardent follower of Hindu Gods Ayyappan and Guruvayoorappan, tried to take former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi to Sabarimala, in 1960s, he could not proceed further owing to the opposition from Hindu organisations.
Sabarimala is probably the only temple in the region, which allows non-Hindus also visit the temple, provided they are pilgrims. Some devotees say that women in the age of 10-50 are not allowed considering the dangerous nature of the travel during those days and that the menstruation they go through every month is considered as non-pure in the religion.