The Sabarimala Verdict

It seems like love and logic have never seen eye to eye, neither in the past nor will they in the distant future. Like many unexplained conventions, i

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It seems like love and logic have never seen eye to eye, neither in the past nor will they in the distant future. Like many unexplained conventions, it seems that going to a temple carrying a double X chromosome isn’t fortuitous. All in the name of love.

The Lord Ayyappa has been attributed to defeating many a demon in his time. Hailed as a saviour defeating the mighty Babar, who later became his humble servant; the Lord once defeated a poor damsel who manifested as an incubus. It was in the name of this damsel, Maalikapuruthamma, that women had been shunned from the holy place for decades. It was said that Maalikapuruthamma lived in a temple nearby that of Lord Ayyapa’s till this day, waiting for him; and in her name, the Lord decided that it would be a deceit to let other women enter his temple.

Sabarimala is to the west coast of India, what Mecca is to the Middle East. The Temple is situated amongst the hills of the Periyar Tiger Reserve and witnesses a sundry of devotees every year. The pilgrimage in itself is a mammoth task. The devotees dedicate themselves to Vratham, a period of austerity for 41 days prior to the pilgrimage. During the Vratham, the devotee is expected to refrainfrom profanity, meat, the cutting of hair and nails, footwear and all worldly desires. He must wear a Rudraksha mala, a necklace of Rudraksha beads, must dress in plain black or blue traditional clothing and must perceive all that is around him as the Lord Ayyappa. I say ‘He’ here because we are yet to see a woman, of menstruating age visit the temple; even after the landmark ruling by the Supreme Court allowing women to do so. The arduous pilgrimage follows. The devotees climb approximately 61 kilometres, all the while carrying offerings for the Lord on their heads, to the reach the temple.
It is not new that women are being victimized for the simple reason of menstruation. How the purest form of blood that has the ability to create life itself, can be so ugly and repulsive to the masses; is beyond me. In the ancient times, a woman during her menstruation was considered to be a Goddess, was prayed to, was made to rest and was attended to hand and foot. This period of rest somehow turned into the mangled thought of a woman being putrid crud when she menstruates, and that she must be locked away, for God forbid someone sees her in this state. This is the butterfly effect in real time. Even in 2018 women are battling to be treated as equals in the eyes of society. In India, we’ve had it comparatively easy, as the law of the land isn’t averse to education and careers for women, and wasn’t so either in the past. The last faction standing in the way, creating this impenetrable glass ceiling, is society. This ruling by the Supreme Court in the case of Sabarimala, coupled with the banning of the triple Talaq in 2017, is a step in the right direction. It is yet to be seen as to whether this culminates into a sluggish march to the future where women are no longer seen as child-rearing liabilities and rather, as assets.