INDIA’S MOST EDUCATED STATE, BARRED WOMEN FROM ENTERING SABARIMALA TEMPLE

Age-old myths: Sabarimala temple is one of the oldest holy shrines for Hindus and has a footfall of 25 million devotees.

The legendary tale states, that the reigning temple deity, Ayyappa, is a celibate man, and a menstruating woman entering his Sabarimala temple—which has an annual footfall of 25 million pilgrims— is disrespectful. Remarkable achievement: In 2018, the Supreme court finally passed a historic verdict, that lifted a historic ban on menstruating women’s entry.

Ammini, a 42-year-old law professor from Kerala and her friend Kanakadurga, hiked through a forested trail to enter the Sabarimala temple on January 2, 2019. A lot of women’s have tried to enter the temple but have failed. That incident got a lot of praise from one part of the section while the others lie on the side who criticizes and believes that it was breaking of an old age tradition. The symbolism of Ammini and Kanakadurga’s historic entry into Sabarimala is now an intricate part of a messy political movement that wants to bring back the ban on women at Sabarimala. Right-wing groups, supported by India’s ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), demanded a state-wide shutdown after, and businesses and transportation became paralysed. Across the state, hundreds were arrested, and at least one person was killed in clashes.

Ammini said that political parties are picking up the Sabarimala issue as a “distraction” from “more important issues” CM in favour: The political rhetoric around Sabarimala led the ruling state party, Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI-M)—which famously supported women’s entry—to resort to door-to-door visits to inform people of the “real situation in Sabarimala”.

Chief Minister, Pinarayi Vijayan, who stood in favour of the verdict, responded to the criticisms by stating that, the presiding deity, Lord Ayyappa and other god’s blessings are with the LDF government, for working for the welfare of people. Opposition parties: Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala reacted to his statement by saying he and his devotees will face the wrath of Lord Ayyappa, in this election, as he has sinned by favouring the breakage of tradition, which has been followed for years.

BJP state president K Surendran, lashing out at Vijayan, said what the CM has done in Sabarimala three years ago, i.e. implementing the 2018 Supreme Court, allowing the women to enter the temple, is an act of demon and the world would never forgive the wicked deeds.

India’s Union Home Minister Amit Shah, also stood in opposition passing the remark that temples should be managed by “devotees, not atheists”. Filling up of vote banks: As the assembly elections were round the corner, the parties in the State brought back the Sabarimala controversy and tried to reinforce the ban on women. Opposition leaders restored to misogynistic language, in their campaigns and speech, to criticize women’s entry into the temple and fill their vote banks and sideline the ruling party.

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