The Travancore Devaswom Board on Friday said it will comply with the Supreme Court’s verdict allowing women between the ages of 10 and 50 entry into Kerala’s Sabarimala temple. The Devaswom Board had opposed the plea to lift the ban on women’s entry into the temple.

The top court said the dualistic approach against women degrades their status and patriarchy of religion cannot be permitted to trump over faith. “Any relationship with the creator is a transcendental one, cannot be circumscribed by biological factors,” Justice Rohinton Nariman said. Justice Indu Malhotra, who disagreed with the majority opinion of the Supreme Court bench, said it is up to the worshippers, not the court, to decide what the religion’s essential practice is.

A Padmakumar, the president of the Travancore Devaswom Board, said the body will take steps to implement the top court’s verdict. “We will discuss with the state government on the additional facilities to be set up at Sabarimala,” Padmakumar said. “The TDB had argued to continue the status quo at Sabarimala. Personally, I am against women’s entry to the hill shrine. Since I am part of the Left Democratic Front government, I have to support its stand.”

After changing its stance multiple times, the Kerala government in July told the court that the custom of barring entry to women was not permissible under the Constitution. It argued that the celibate status of a deity cannot be a ground for such a ban as it is a Hindu shrine and not a temple of a particular denomination.

Kerala Minister for Co-Operation, Tourism and Devaswom Kadakampally Surendran said the decision to implement the verdict is on the Travancore Devaswom Board and not the government. “Let them take a decision first,” he said. “They may face difficulties to implement it, but all the issues can be sorted out through consultations.”

Sabarimala chief priest Kantaru Rajeevaru said the verdict was disappointing, but the temple board will follow it. Activist Rahul Easwar, who had supported the ban on women’s entry in the past, said the devotees of Ayyappa will file a review petition.

Decision welcomed by most

Union Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi called the verdict a “wonderful decision”. “It opens up and brings the way forward for Hinduism to become even more inclusive and not a property of one caste or one sex,” she said.

Jayamala, who is the minister for Women and Child Development and Empowerment in Karnataka, said she welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision. “I am so happy [to know about this verdict],” she said. “I believe in God. This verdict is a gift from the God.” The actor in 2006 had claimed that she had entered the Sabarimala shrine in Kerala in 1986.

Dravid Munnetra Kazhagam women’s wing secretary Kanimozhi also praised the verdict and said she hoped Parliament and legislative assemblies also took note and allowed women in in equal numbers.

Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said there can be no discrimination to worship on the basis of gender or otherwise. “A welcome and progressive move towards gender equality by Supreme Court in Sabarimala,” Surjewala said on Twitter. “As society evolves, so should our religious beliefs and law.”

National Commission for Women chief Rekha Sharma said she welcomed the decision, adding that now women can choose if they want to go or not. “Earlier it was imposed on them in the name of religion,” she told ANI. “When the right to equality and religion are there, right to equality should win.”

The All India Democratic Women’s Association General Secretary Mariam Dhawale said it was another step to help bring equality in the society. Another women’s rights activist Vani Subramaniam expressed concern over the community’s reaction to the order. “Question remains to be seen how it is accepted in the community and by the people at the ground level,” she told PTI.