Ever since the Supreme Court put an end to the centuries-old tradition by ruling in favour of allowing women irrespective of ages to enter Kerala’s most famous Sabarimala Temple, the hill shrine has become a boiling zone. The attempts to enter the shrine by the female journalists and feminist activists who proudly declares themselves to be atheist on their social media or even mock religious values seems to be an intended provocation as it’s certain that their visit is not out of devotion but to gain TRP by hitting headlines.
After a five-judge Constitutional bench headed by former Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra slammed the provision in the Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship (Authorisation of Entry) Rules, 1965, for violating the right of Hindu women to practice religion and ordered to open the door of Lord Ayyappa Temple for all, the devotees have blocked the temple entries and are protesting against the SC order. Surprisingly, the protesters have a huge number of female devotees who are also demanding the review of the apex court’s decision.
The gates of the temple opened for the devotees on Wednesday and amid the ongoing mayhem, feminist activist Rehana Fathima and reporter Kavitha Jakkal tried to enter the Sabarimala Temple on Friday being assured of security by the police. However, after the head priest Rajeevaru Kandarau threatened to shut the temple and stop puja, she had to stop 500 metres away from the shrine and head back being escorted by a team of police personnel headed by Inspector General S Sreejith. “I am very proud for attempting to go to Sabarimala Temple. We have faced a very dangerous situation, walked 5 km to reach the temple, and were stopped just 100 metres away. Though we can go there if we want, police have promised to give us full protection,” Jakkal, 24, who is a journalist from Mojo TV in Hyderabad, told the reporters on her way back. She was seen in a bulletproof jacket and helmet and surrounded by 300 policemen as she walked from Pamba to Sannidhanam.
Resident Editor of Dainik Dabang Dunia Unmesh Gujarati expressed, “According to me, the female journalists and activists who are showing the courage to visit the Sabarimala Temple in order to gain publicity must also try to show the same courage and go to a Masjid once at least. The media houses are on purpose sending the female journalists just for gaining TRP and to create an outrage; otherwise, they could have sent male journalists as well.”
Sabarimala is opened for a very few days in the entire year and the temple allows millions of women to visit every year; howbeit, it has an age bar. For centuries, Sabarimala has not allowed women of menstruating age (between 10 and 50) to visit the temple as they believe the deity, Lord Ayyappa, is celibate. Sabarimala doesn’t distinguish people on the basis of religion unlike other temples in Kerala and every devotee visiting Ayyappa shrine (called as Ayyappa or swami) wear the same kind of clothing — Black dhoti with no shirt — a uniformity that makes Sabarimala Ayyappa Temple exclusive.
Tamil Nadu BJP leader SG Suryah said, “A few women are pretending to be devotees — Rehana Fathima from Kerala is a Muslim and journalist Kavitha Jakkal. After the Supreme Court has delivered the verdict to enter the temple, several human rights activists are trying to mock the tradition which has been followed for years. Those who are being desperate top enter the shrine are definitely not the devotees but are just hurting the sentiments of the Hindus.”
“As of now, there was not a single case where women devotees wanted to go the Sabarimala as they respect the tradition. Activists who are advertising their attempts to enter the temple over social media are provoking chaos,” he further added.
Undoubtedly, the SC’s landmark judgement on ruling out patriarchy in religion that interrupts the right to pray was a welcoming decision. Even so, how justified is the cheap publicity stunts by these so-called crusaders of gender equality? The judgement was for the female devotees (age group of 10 to 50) of Lord Ayyappa who long for visiting the temple but are not allowed to because of being into their menstruating age bracket. “Friends, four of us are leaving to Sabarimala today, which includes atheists like me and two devotees. I am not going to Sabarimala because I have any wish to do so,” journalist Kavitha Jakkal posted on social media. Another journalist Libi CS, the Editor of a news website called Newsgil, too were stopped by the devotees on her way to the temple. She had earlier published a story on her website stating that if Ayyappa’s lust was awakened because of women devotees entering the temple, they would prescribe medicine.
Even the CEO of Mojo TV, Revathi, took to Twitter and said that her team of journalists including Kavitha, Balakrishna, and Narasing were going on an indefinite hunger strike. She wrote, “They r fighting for their right. They are fighting for what the #SupremeCourt said. Don’t take this country back to medieval ages! Let the law live.”
Keeping all these in consideration, what’s dragging these self-proclaimed ‘Atheist’ women to visit the shrine? What’s the reason behind dressing up as a typical devotee wearing black with a small smear of ash on the forehead? Are all these blatant activisms, by wrongfully taking advantage of the SC order, only to mock the religious beliefs and grab the attention for mere limelight?
Right-wing activist Vikas Kumar asserted, “Rehana Fathima, Kavitha Jakkal, Mary Sweety, Libi CS are desperate to enter Sabarimala Temple as Ayyappa devotees. Petitioner for the entry of women in Sabarimala Temple was Naushad Khan. Most of them are either non-Hindus or non-believers. Most of the news channels are sending their female reporters to Sabarimala as if they don’t have male reporters.”
He went on saying, “It seems some people who are actually not the stakeholders are hell-bent to destroy and hurt the Hindu religion and its sentiments under the garb of gender justice. Sabarimala was not at all an issue of gender justice as it doesn’t restrict woman entry. Only a certain age group of women devotees don’t go there as per their religious beliefs. The major protest that’s happening is by the women who are actually the real devotees of Lord Ayyappa.”