Sabarimala verdict: The chaos, the court failed to see

The Supreme Court’s five-judge Bench on Friday ruled in favour of the entry of women irrespective of their age in the Sabarimala Ayyappa Temple. The Supreme Court struck down the Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship (Authorisation of Entry) Rules, 1965 which violated the right of Hindu women to practice religion, being un-Constitutional. It’s worthwhile to mention that for the “darshan” in Sabarimala Temple, a devotee needs to follow 41 days (Mandala Vrat) religious penance, the same changes the diet, the daily course of a devotee.

The devotee abstains from carnal pleasures, adheres to the religious practices strictly, the religious penance changes the course of life for 41 days, which is considered as a re-inventing period of self. The custom has been continuing from time immemorial, the “Darshan” in Sabarimala is strictly based on the “Mandala Vrat” of 41 days. The women as such have never been prohibited entry in the Holy Shrine, as per the customs, the girl child below 10 years and women who by passed the age of 50 used to have Darshan, as the 41 Days Mandala Vrat often could not be completed at a stretch due to biological specialities. Respecting the tradition, the women as such, never tried to forcibly enter the temple, rather waited for their turn, to again visit the temple after their childhood visit.

The “long wait” has never been considered as a “forcible ban” which the women folk tried to break all these years, rather it came from the inner hearts, it was a self imposed restriction. Having said so, it’s also worthwhile to mention that the present age is all about grabbing media glare, there have been few attempts by certain people, who came from distant parts of the country, to portray the self regulation as a forcibly enforced ban. The Sabrimala Temple is distinct in several aspects, the deity, Lord Ayyappa, son of Lord Shiva and Mohini (Vishnu) is a celibate, moreover, the deity opted the wilderness and permitted the devotees to visit him once in an year, after observing the religious penance of 41 days. The Travancore Dewaswom Board, later allowed darshan, in every first five days of Malayalam months, thereby deviating from the customary practice and has been planning to open it up all around the year, considering the financial prospects it could gain out of it. The issue at hand is all about the customs and traditions prevalent in various parts of the Nation and viewing it through the Constitutional prism only. Does such an approach would pave way for perpetual chaos in the society, every Nation and culture has to reform itself from barbarianism like the Sati, the untouchability and other social evils, but can all the customary practices be viewed through the Constitutional prism.

India, i.e Bharat, is a land of diversity, we are a nation which has a glorious past, we have been evolving all through these ages, the pluralism we often quote, is not the contribution of a Constitution which came in 1950, January 26th. Our Nation didn’t turn “secular” all of a sudden, especially after the inclusion of the word  “secular“ by the 42nd Amendment, 1976, the Nation, embraced all the minorities, whether linguistic or religious to its fold, if someone says, it’s because of the inclusion of a particular word in the preamble, the Nation continues to be Secular, they are better to be left untouched, let them be in their glass menagerie. If their argument is accepted for a while where has the religious minorities of the neighbouring country vanished? If secularism is habitually and culturally rooted in the sub-continent it has to be present there as well. Likewise, the Hon’ble Supreme Court failed to see the custom of Attukal Bhagwati Temple, in Thiruvanthapuram, Kerala, where a whopping 50 lakh women assemble on a single day every year to offer pongala (holy feast to the Goddess). It’s a Guinness Book record as well, ardent devotee women flow from every nook and corner of Kerala to its capital on said day. Men are not allowed to offer pongala to Maa Bhagwathi, on the said day, no men are even allowed to wander around, except the policemen and the selected volunteers.

Women devotees performing pongala at Attukal temple in Thiruvananthapuram. The Attukal temple is called “Sabarimala of Women’

Now, if a men’s group “Happy Not to Bleed” approaches the Apex Court, all these Articles whether it’s Article 14, Article 25(1), et al. would come in to play and Men would also have to be permitted an entry in the said Pongala Festival, thereby leading to societal chaos. No man is complaining about the ban now, tomorrow a media crazy man can approach the Apex Court, the issue cannot be looked upon with a different eye, as the facts remain same, the gender involved becomes vice versa here, the Attukal Temple is known as “Sabarimala of Women.” The entertaining of such non-issues would create societal imbalance and would take the attention and energy of the system to highly un-productive and contentious debates. There are lot of customs in the country, many might not be backed by any logic, the evil one among them should be crushed with an iron hand, the rest should be left untouched, the viewing of all such customary practices, through the prism of the Constitution would create many a societal chaos. “Justice delayed is justice denied” the judicial system has to go several miles before it can sleep, the common man is cursing the snail’s pace of the justice delivery system.

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