The state government and the Travancore Devaswom Board have made it clear that the apex court order — lifting the age restriction on entry of women into the hill shrine — would be implemented.
After convening a meeting of pro-Congress former devaswom board presidents, Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala questioned the government’s move. “The government and board are showing undue haste in implementing the verdict. The government is against the interest of the devotees. The Congress will stand with the devotees, who are hurt over the approach of the board and the government,” he said.
State BJP president PS Sreedharan Pillai said the party would protest against the government’s stand. “The CPM government should avoid its obdurate stand against filing a review petition against the verdict. The impulsiveness of the government will make Sabarimala a battleground. The government has hurt the sentiments of devotees. We will go to any extent to protect the traditions at Sabarimala,” he said.
Upper-caste Hindu outfit Nair Service Society (NSS) also expressed disappointment and said it would file a revision petition in the Supreme Court.
The BJP, which had left the protests to the Yuva Morcha and Mahila Morcha, announced that the party would directly step in for the cause of the faithful. BJP leaders met the erstwhile royal family of Pandalam, who have a stake in the rituals at the temple, and also extended support to the temple priests who are against the entry of women of all ages to the shrine.
BJP sources said the RSS stand on women’s entry remained the same. “However, we cannot ignore the public resentment, which has come out spontaneously,” said a senior leader.
However, an opinion piece in Janmabhumi, the BJP-RSS mouthpiece in Kerala, on Thursday contradicted the stand taken by the Sangh leadership in Nagpur. R Sanjayan, deputy director of Bharatheeya Vichara Kendram, argued that the SC ruling does not in any way affect the foundational traditions and rituals of the temple. In fact, as more female devotees throng the temple, he says, the temple’s popularity and importance will increase.
The article reads, “The court ruling does not have anything that can adversely affect the Hindu religion or society. The court has pronounced invalid only the restrictions on the entry of women between the ages of 10-50. No one has been able to logically or through proper scientific methods prove the legitimacy of such traditions.”
“The choice to visit/not visit the temple or even deciding the time to offer prayers must be left to the women. The rational notion is that women have the ability to make that choice. Everyone must understand that the age of patriarchy has ended,” Sanjayan writes.
While the RSS had initially spoken in support of the verdict, the Sangh’s second-in-command Bhaiyyaji Joshi said in a statement on Wednesday that devotees’ sentiments cannot be ignored.