In a landmark judgment, the Supreme Court has ruled that women will be allowed inside the Sabarimala temple, and while one would have expected that women in Kerala would rejoice, it was quite the opposite. Most women have said they will not enter the temple because of their belief in what the temple, what Lord Ayyappa stands for. So here’s why women from a certain age group weren’t allowed for so many centuries.
Legend has it that Lord Ayyappa was created from Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva to destroy a powerful demoness. When Lord Ayyappa destroyed her, a beautiful woman emerged, freed and a curse lifted. This beautiful woman then asks Ayyappa to marry her. Lord Ayyappa declined, saying that he has to go to Sabarimala and fulfill the prayers of his devotees. He also assured her that he will marry her when kanni-swamis (devotees) stop coming to Sabarimala. And that also explains his vow of celibacy, which women devotees in Kerala respect.
For women devotees, it’s also a sense of respect for the woman who sits in another temple near Sabarimala, as the Puranas state- waiting for Lord Ayyappa. It is this myth that has led to the practice of women not being allowed inside the temple.
Let’s also understand that Sabarimala doesn’t advocate a ban on women, in fact, lakhs girls below the age of 10 and women above the age of 50 enter the temple and offer their prayers. With the SC order, now there will be no age restriction, but the contention of the board is that the respect of the deity, what the deity of Lord Ayyappa stands for will be compromised.
In a historic verdict, the Supreme Court on Friday ended the centuries-old practice and allowed women of all ages to enter Sabarimala temple. The 4:1 judgment of the Supreme Court upheld women's right to worship Lord Ayyappa in Sabarimala. While terming the ban on women in the age group of 10 to 51 as religious patriarchy, CJI Dipak Mista declared the discriminatory act as unconstitutional and violative of fundamental rights.