Sabarimala: Yesudas asks women not to tempt devotees

Ayyappa devotees take part in a procession to mark the annual pilgrimage to the Sabarimala Ayyappa temple in Kerala. (PTI Photo)

Legendary playback singer K J Yesudas has said that women should avoid visiting the famous Lord Ayyappa temple in Sabarimala as their presence at the shrine would “distract” male devotees.

Yesudas, himself a devotee of Lord Ayyappa and whose beautiful rendition of ‘Harivarasanam’ is played every night before the temple’s door is closed, made the comments while interacting with journalists on the sidelines of an event here.

“If a beautiful girl goes (to Sabarimala) with the kind of attire they wear today, Lord Ayyappa will not even open his eyes and see. But other Ayyappas (devotees) will see (the women) and it is not good. Their intention would change. That is why we tell them (women) not to go. There are other temples and they (women) can go there,” Yesudas said on Saturday.

Contending that “things and time have changed”, Yesudas said a few decades back a man would not even look at his wife during the 48-day viradham period before visiting the shrine. “Those times have changed. What I request you (women) is please don’t tempt Ayyappas (devotees),” he said.

The entry of women into the Sabarimala Temple in Kerala’s Pathanamthitta district has been a thorny issue with Hindu groups and other organisations citing age-old traditions. The Supreme Court’s order in 2018 allowing women into the temple triggered a major political slugfest and a law and order issue in Kerala.

Though there is no stay on the 2018 order, the Kerala Government hasn’t allowed any women to worship at the shrine during the pilgrim season this year. The Supreme Court, while hearing a bunch of review petitions on the entry of women, has recommended transferring the case to a larger bench.

The court verdict had triggered massive protests in Kerala and many women who turned up at the base camp of the temple were turned away by police. However, police had secretly facilitated two women who had prayed at the temple on January 2, 2019.

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