The Supreme Court’s verdict allowing entry of women of all ages into the Ayyappa temple in Kerala, is ‘respectfully acceptable’ but the shrine board will move the court with a review petition, said A Padmakumar, the president of Travancore Devaswon Board, which administers the shrine.
He said “The Devaswom Board respectfully accepts the decision and will do the needful to accommodate women devotees. We will go for a review petition after getting support from other religious heads.”
Rahul Easwar, the President of the Ayyappa Dharma Sena, and an activist who backed the ban, argued that the verdict is not balanced.
He said, “Our core argument is that presiding deity of Sabarimala Shrine has some peculiarities. The deity is in the form of ‘Naishtika Brahmachari’ and has certain rights to uphold the privacy of the deity. And the deity’s private space is the temple, so we were expecting a much more balanced verdict. We will certainly file a review petition. We still have the legal remedy with us. Until October 16 the temple is closed too, so we have time.”
Women of menstruating age that is between the ages of 10 and 50 were barred from entering the Sabarimala Temple by its officials, who argued that the temple deity, Lord Ayyappa, had taken a vow of celibacy.
But a five-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, in its 4:1 verdict on Friday, said banning women’s entry into the temple is gender discrimination and violates the rights of Hindu women. The ruling came after a petition argued that the practice violated gender equality.
Activist Trupti Desai hailed the top court’s decision as a step in the direction.
“We welcome the decision of the apex court. This is a very big win for women and is a historical decision. Women have today got right to equality and we will soon declare a date to enter the Sabarimala Shrine. There is a mentality, which is responsible for such practices and this thought process must be changed and we have taken a very significant step forward in that directions with this constitutional win.”