Chennai: Even as Kerala remains tense over women’s entry in Sabarimala temple, actor-turned-politician Rajinikanth has cautioned against interference when it comes to religion and traditions.
Giving his take on the burning issue for the first time, he said he is all for gender equality, but "traditions must be followed and respected".
The 67-year-old actor, who had made his political entry in December last year with his brand of “spiritual” politics, said there is no “contradictory opinion” on women having equal rights.
“But when it comes to temple, each will have its own set of beliefs and traditions that have been followed over the years. It is my humble opinion that nobody should interfere in those," he told reporters at the Chennai airport after returning from a film shoot.
When asked whether this means the top court verdict should be ignored, the actor said, "I am not saying that we must not ignore it, but in issues concerning religion and rituals, caution must be exercised."
Kerala has been witnessing protests after the state government said it would implement the apex court order and facilitate women's entry to Lord Ayyappa's hilltop shrine.
The shrine had opened its door to devotees on Wednesday, but protesters have blocked women from entering by using force.
Rajinikanth’s colleague Kamal Haasan, who has also joined politics, on the other hand has refused to be drawn into the controversy, saying it won't be proper to seek an opinion from him on Sabarimala issue.
The Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM) founder-president said he would prefer to "stay in the centre" and talk about things benefiting women.
The veteran actor, a self-declared rationalist, said he has never been to Sabarimala though he had visited other temples. "It won't be proper to seek an opinion from me on this matter. I will stay in the centre and talk about things good for women. I don't understand the (Ayyappa) devotees' stand. So it is better not to interfere in that," he told reporters.
When asked about the Supreme Court verdict not being "respected" by Kerala in this case or by Karnataka in the Cauvery water dispute with Tamil Nadu, Haasan shot back saying "one can't say Kerala (government) is not respecting" the judgment.
"It is a different thing if people don't respect it," he said in an apparent reference to the stiff resistance and protests by Ayyappa devotees at Sabarimala to the entry of women into the shrine. "In Karnataka, the government is not respecting and in this case people are not respecting. There is a difference between the two," he added.