Many women devotees favour status quo

Devotees at the Sabarimala Temple. PTI

In Kerala’s political spaces, response to the Supreme Court judgment which upheld the entry of women of all ages to the Ayyappa Temple in Sabarimala was on expected lines.

While the ruling Left welcomed it as a progressive judgment which would influence debates on discrimination in other spheres, the opposition Congress and the BJP have called for a consensual approach to implement of the order.

The response, however, doesn’t appear as clear among the key stakeholders— the woman devotees.

Many women favoured status quo and contended that traditions followed at the temple should not be tampered with.

Some of them felt viewing religious practices in the context of rights and empowerment was misleading.

Anupama, a homemaker in Thiruvananthapuram, said it was difficult to disown a religious belief on the grounds of gender equality.

Radhamani, a 52-year-old vegetable seller in the city, said that she always backed restrictions on women’s entry.

“I can’t say how safe or how exhausting it is for a woman because I don’t know. For me, it was always about a belief,” she said.

Radhamani said she was “not sure” if she would visit the temple.

Aneesha, a high school teacher, said she did not find the issue important enough to have set off intense, polarised discussions.

“The court judgment is important because it backs an individual’s right to pray but I don’t feel this is a platform to measure the progress that women have made in the society,” she said.

Women who countered the argument for faith over freedom of choice pointed out that reforms have always been the key in shaping traditions, religious or otherwise.

“I may or may not visit the temple, that’s inconsequential; but if I decide to visit, I can’t be denied that only because I’m a woman. That’s discrimination,” Padmalatha, a saleswoman, said.

Asha, a Kochi-based businesswoman, found it strange that men had to formulate their own traditions and strictures to protect gods.

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Many women devotees favour status quo

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