November 13, 2022 07:42 pm | Updated November 14, 2022 03:41 am IST – Alappuzha (Kerala)
Women in the menstrual age group are not allowed into the Lord Ayyappa shrine at Sabarimala as he is an “eternal celibate” and there is no need to alter or subvert this practice, senior CPI(M) leader G. Sudhakaran, who had supported the previous Pinarayi Vijayan government on entry of women to the hilltop temple, said on Sunday.
Mr. Sudhakaran, speaking to reporters here, said the minimum age for women to enter the temple has still not been changed from “60 years” and it is believed that since Lord Ayyappa is an eternal celibate, entry of women below that age should not be allowed.
“It is something we all accept and respect. That is how things are going on. There is no need to alter or subvert it,” said Mr. Sudhakaran, who was also a minister in the previous Vijayan government.
His remarks come just days before the two-month-long annual Mandalam-Makaravilakku pilgrimage to Sabarimala in Pathanamthitta district is scheduled to commence from November 17.
In 2018, a five-judge Constitution bench of the Supreme Court had, by a majority 4:1 verdict, allowed girls and women of all ages to visit the Ayyappa temple at Sabarimala, saying discrimination on physiological grounds was violative of the fundamental rights as enshrined in the Constitution such as the right to equality.
In the following year, when the state government tried to implement the apex court order there was a huge protest against the same and various organisations also moved pleas in the top court seeking review of its 2018 decision.
Thereafter, in November 2019, a five-judge Constitution bench of the top court by a 3:2 majority verdict had referred the pleas seeking a review of its historic 2018 judgment to a seven-judge bench, along with other contentious issues of alleged discrimination against Muslim and Parsi women.
The Sabarimala temple had restricted the entry of women belonging to the age group of 10-50 as part of its age-old tradition.