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Ayyappa Devotees Warn of ‘Bleak Future’ for Kerala Govt if SC Decision on Sabarimala Not Reversed

The Nama Japa Yatra, which had women believers of Lord Ayyappa in large numbers, stated that there “can be no interference in Hindu religion”.

Debayan Roy | News18.com

Updated:October 7, 2018, 9:26 PM IST
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Ayyappa Devotees Warn of ‘Bleak Future’ for Kerala Govt if SC Decision on Sabarimala Not Reversed
The Sabarimala Ayyappa Seva Samajam (SASS), along with several other Hindu religious groups, gathered at Delhi's Jantar Mantar to protest against the top court’s decision.
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New Delhi: When a five-judge constitution bench of the Supreme Court allowed entry of women of all ages in the Sabarimala temple, little did it imagine that women themselves would turn up in arms against the verdict, keen to “uphold the tradition and custom of Hindus”.

The Sabarimala Ayyappa Seva Samajam (SASS), along with several other Hindu religious groups, gathered at Delhi's Jantar Mantar to protest against the top court’s decision and demanded either an immediate review petition or an ordinance to overrule the Supreme Court verdict.

The Nama Japa Yatra, which had women believers of Lord Ayyappa in large numbers, stated that there “can be no interference in Hindu religion”.

“It’s my culture and this is my faith. I will send my son, husband and my mother. But I will wait till I turn 55. No one can enter the temple just like that," said Reema Nair, a resident of Lajpat Nagar in Delhi.

As chants of ‘Swami Saranam’ filled the protest, most of the women said they also believed that there were only four temples in India that bar the entry of women, owing to the nature of the deity.

"My Lord Ayyappa is a Naishtik Brahmacharya. There are only four such temples in India. Why should I not value the nature of the deity? It is not a permanent ban and once I am over 50, I can go. This decision by the court needs to be reversed before the next season begins," said another woman devotee who sat clutching a rusted frame of Lord Ayyappa.

Women of menstruating age, which is between 10 and 50, were barred from entering the Sabrimala Temple by its officials who argued that the temple deity, Lord Ayyappa, had taken a vow of celibacy.

SASS has also mentioned that since the government of Kerala has taken conflicting stands in the court from 2007 to 2016 regarding entry of women in the temple, it has “failed to protect the faith and customs of Sabarimala's devotees”.

"We demand that the Kerala government and the Travancore Devaswom board immediately change their stand and file a review petition in the court. If this is not done, then there will be a great threat to the government of Kerala,” said one of the SASS members.

Other organisations apart from SASS who had taken part in the protest were Bal Gokulam, Sanskriti, Faith Foundation and GSI.

However, there were others who believed that there might be hidden political interests in filing a plea to allow women inside Sabarimala and only an ordinance could end the protest.

A member of Faith Foundation told News18 that the ban on entry of women was temporary due to the ‘Naishtik Bramhacharya’ character of Lord Ayyappa.

"A non-believer had filed a PIL in the court. How does it matter what they think? This is a political conspiracy to destroy our customs. There needs to be an ordinance brought in which reverses the top court order. Almost 5.5 crore people have expressed anger. This cannot be ignored," said a member.

The protest also saw people from other communities lending support to the cause.

Muthuswamy S from BJP’s Tamil Nadu unit also addressed the devotees and said, "You cannot play with our religion. We will force the courts to reverse their decision."

The BJP’s Kerala president Sreedharan Pillai, who was initially soft in criticising the verdict, had recently made an aggressive defence about protecting the sanctity of Lord Ayyappa. Even the BJP’s front organisations, Yuva Morcha and Mahila Morcha, had earlier stated that they would protest against the order, he said.

Following the September 28 verdict, Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan had categorically said no review petition would be filed and the state government would do everything needed to implement it.

Things spiralled out of control after the Travancore Devasom Board (TDB), the custodian of the temple, also decided not to file the petition, leading to hundreds of devotees taking to the streets in protest.
| Edited by: Padmaja Venkataraman
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