The Kerala government on Monday said women activists led by Bhumata Brigade chief Trupti Desai would not be allowed inside the Lord Ayyappa temple in Sabarimala, PTI reported. On Sunday, Desai had said she would lead 100 women to the shrine in mid-January to demand entry of women of all ages inside the temple, The Hindu reported. Women between 10 and 50 years of age are forbidden from entering the temple.
Devaswom Minister K Surendran said the Sabarimala temple was governed by the Travancore Devaswom Board, “and its traditions and rules are applicable to everyone”. Surendran said there would be no change “in the traditions and customs” of the shrine. “The matter with regard to [the] entry of women of all age groups is already before the Supreme Court,” he said, adding that the government would wait for the apex court to pass a ruling on the issue.
On November 7, the government had told the court it was ready to allow women of all ages into the sanctum sanctorum of the Sabarimala shrine. The rule is aimed at keeping menstruating women away from the temple as it is said that the presiding deity, Lord Ayyappa, is celibate. The Travancore Devaswom Board, which manages the temple, had warned the court that its verdict in the case would have consequences and effects on traditions and practices in other religions as well.
On April 11, the apex court had pulled up temple authorities regarding the rampant gender discrimination at Sabarimala, saying that such restrictions infringe on one’s constitutional rights. Gender discrimination with regard to the entry of women into religious shrines has come under the spotlight recently, with activists like Desai calling on the boards of places of worship to allow women into their main sanctums. On September 3, the Bombay High Court had lifted a ban on women’s entry into the inner portion of the Haji Ali dargah in Mumbai.