Sabarimala temple: Kerala government defends ban on women’s entry

Ahead of the Assembly polls, the Congress-led UDF government also withdrew the “erroneous” stand of its predecessor, the Left Democratic Front (LDF) government,

Written by Utkarsh Anand | New Delhi | Updated: February 6, 2016 10:20 am
Sabarimala: Ayyappa devotees throng at Sannidanam in Sabarimala on Wednesday. PTI Photo (PTI1_6_2016_000222A) Sabarimala: Ayyappa devotees throng at Sannidanam in Sabarimala on Wednesday. PTI Photo

Defending the ban on entry of women in Sabarimala temple, the Kerala government Friday told the Supreme Court that beliefs and customs of devotees cannot be changed through a judicial process and that “the opinion of the priests is final” in matters of religion.

It claimed that the restriction on entry of women in the menstrual age group cannot be tested on the ground of fundamental right to equality since it involves essential and integral part of practicing religion, which includes the “right to exclude persons”.

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Ahead of the Assembly polls, the Congress-led UDF government also withdrew the “erroneous” stand of its predecessor, the Left Democratic Front (LDF) government, which had stated in an affidavit in November 2007 said “it is not fair to deny a section of women from entering Sabarimala temple”. The LDF government had favoured appointment of a commission of scholars to facilitate the change.

However, in the fresh affidavit, the present government has contended that the previous stand favouring a change had no legal basis and that it wanted to rectify the “mistakes” by withdrawing the stand taken in 2007. It said that rituals, ceremonies and modes of worship are exclusive matters of religion protected under Articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution and they entitle people and communities to manage their own affairs.

“In the context of Sabarimala, the administration vests with the Travancore Devaswom Board under the provisions of the Travancore-Cochin Hindu Religious Institutions Act, 1950. Under the Act, there is a statutory duty cast on the Board to arrange worship in temples in accordance with the usage. Therefore, in matters of religion, it is the opinion of the priests that is final,” it said.

The government stated that “the right to exclude persons who are not allowed to participate in worship according to the tenets of the religious institution in question is a matter of religion” and such essential or integral parts of religion are “immune” from challenge under Article 14 (right to equality).

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First Published on: February 6, 2016 3:10 am
  1. A
    Alok
    Feb 6, 2016 at 12:40 pm
    Why this unwanted interference in Hindu religious customs and practices ? Will you dare ask why Xian and Muslims have OWN set of rules and regulations for their places of worship ? TOO much fuss being made - Pity' Let the Heads of Religious groups and own society handle it; DO not poke yr nose into this, I plead before Non Hindu advocates and Others !
    Reply
    1. D
      Diplomat
      Feb 6, 2016 at 3:34 pm
      If Govts wants rituals and traditions to be at the higher pedestal than the law of the land then it is matter to worry. You can see that all restaurants need to be open for people from all religion, caste and color even though they are commercial enterprises. If consution allows every citizen right to pray and practice his / her religion then they must have right to enter and pray any god or place.
      Reply
      1. R
        Raj
        Feb 6, 2016 at 6:06 am
        The very concept of this temple is based on these rituals. The SC and Govt better not meddle with the functioning.
        Reply
        1. G
          Girish
          Feb 6, 2016 at 7:31 am
          Women were allowed before 1992. Only after 1992 Sabarimala Trust brought this rule. Kerala Govt is coward. Supreme Court should interfere and fix this discremination
          Reply
          1. K
            kvl
            Feb 6, 2016 at 7:37 am
            Why every controversy arising now only, about Hindu temples and rituals as all these years we did not here anything like this.?suddenly these are matters of government poking. Are we in India or being ruled by foreign country ?
            Reply
            1. M
              m
              Feb 6, 2016 at 5:55 am
              Rituals are part of worship which makes temple important. Sabarimala temple rituals are more of penance without women hence it should continue in the same form
              Reply
              1. M
                Mallikarjuna Sharma
                Feb 6, 2016 at 3:36 pm
                Are pilgrims to the more difficult to travel temples like Badrinath and Amarnath, etc. discriminated on the basis of gender? If not, why Ayyappa temples should be an exception? The TDB should introspect, review its decisions and allow entry to women and liberalize the rituals and practices.
                Reply
                1. M
                  Mahadev Shastry
                  Feb 6, 2016 at 10:31 pm
                  I my view, I would not encourage female entry to Shabarimalai. Once female are allowed, it will turn out to be a commercial place than a pilgrimage. More over security will be the biggest issue and the families start settling down for generations, then it would be big mess.
                  Reply
                  1. N
                    N Kumar
                    Feb 6, 2016 at 5:32 am
                    Even if it was allowed Women who know the real faith of Sabarimala wont themselves go there because this custom is based on faith ,there are other temples of Ayyappa where women are allowed it is only those women in the name of women freedom who want TV presence who shout for this,God Save them Swamiye Saranam Ayyappa
                    Reply
                    1. G
                      GoForIt
                      Feb 6, 2016 at 11:07 am
                      Even the British which administered that part of Kerala has recorded the practice as early as 1811. So please do not spread rumours!
                      Reply
                      1. K
                        KA KI
                        Feb 6, 2016 at 7:28 am
                        This change in stand is purely motivated by the upcoming embly elections in the state.
                        Reply
                        1. R
                          RAKESH KUMAR
                          Feb 6, 2016 at 11:28 am
                          Pappu and his chamcha secularists are silent on the issue. After all a secularist govt. can never do any wrong.
                          Reply
                          1. N
                            NANDAN
                            Feb 6, 2016 at 5:17 am
                            Kerala Government is not defending tradition. They are just being careful on the eve of elections.
                            Reply
                            1. S
                              S.P.Chakravarty
                              Feb 6, 2016 at 8:38 pm
                              So the Congress party is now chasing the taliban vote?
                              Reply
                              1. S
                                SAM
                                Feb 6, 2016 at 8:53 pm
                                Sabrimala is too crowded even with the male pilgrims in present times and lots of people have died in the last ten years, bringing the ladies in will make matters worse. I am all for the ladies to be included and increase the faith in Lord Aiyappa. Perhaps a ladies fortnight of POOJA can be a prelude to the main male POOJA.
                                Reply
                                1. B
                                  Badri
                                  Feb 6, 2016 at 9:16 am
                                  Why the Govt whether it is state or central interfering only in Hindu temples and not on other community as we are the soft target. Also like other communities the Hindu don't unite themselves as our politician separated on the basis of caste so that they can vote for the particular caste in the election. It is high time for all Hindus all over the country to unite themselves and fight for the removal of politician from the temple administration and decontrol the temples from the hands of the politicians/Govt.
                                  Reply
                                  1. Y
                                    Yadubhanu
                                    Feb 7, 2016 at 3:23 am
                                    Let the women with ggenuine faith represent their case, not the bazar women with funny dresses and bobbed hair d white. Stop financiers from other religions fuel the problem.
                                    Reply
                                    1. Y
                                      Yadubhanu
                                      Feb 7, 2016 at 3:16 am
                                      Would the SC , which is hyper-active with regards to Hindu traditions and rituals, heed to this adijce?
                                      Reply
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