With the most recent ripples creating judgements, entry of women of all age groups into the Sabarimala shrine has been much debated and talked of. The Shrine has been following the tantric method of Pooja rituals and the Lord Ayyappan himself a nyshtika (austere) brahmachari (celibate) since centuries, expected menstruating age (10-50) women were not allowed because of his severe penance state. The irony is that, this fact was completely ignored and entry judgement was given based on a PIL filed by a person, to uphold gender equality, not to treat women as untouchables, in derogatory way, catching the wrong end of the stick.

Justice Indu Malhotra, in a panel of 5 judges sitting bench, was fair enough to report the adverse effects of such judgements.  Her dissent was put forth as, “constitutional parameters cannot be applied blindly to faith, customs, traditions”. After this judgement there were 19 review petitions filed, by different organisations who were banking inter alia on two counts, one, questioning the locus standi of the PIL petitioner who wanted all women entry into the shrine with no age bar and dissent of Justice Indu Malhotra. Our Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi announced on October 23rd that all the 19 review petitions will be heard on November 13th 2018.

In the meantime, never one thought that protests would take such a magnitude, that even docile women who prefer to be in background, would come on to the streets chanting save Sabarimala and Lord Ayyappa. With the stopping of three women entry into the shrine last month who came from different background and ideology by the devotees, this month the State of Kerala has already announced Section 144 from 3rd to 6th November. The area’s leading to Sabarimala, pathanamthitta, sannithanam, pampa, nillakal have been cordoned off and large police force have already been deployed. As of yesterday about 3700 Hindu activists have been arrested. Chief Minister of Kerala has taken this matter as a prestige issue, wants to implement the supreme court order and has already set the stage for more women activists to visit the shrine on 5th and 6th of November. 

Now the issue is, CJI Ranjan Gogoi had announced yesterday, that 3 more PIL petitions have been accepted and numbered at the Supreme court for 13th November hearing. In furtherance, nothing has been said about the 19 review petitions already announced to be heard on the same day, have not been numbered so far. The next two days will be the crucial, decider-factor for the D-DAY NOVEMBER the 13th.

-Vijayashree Ramesh

The writer is an advocate based at Chennai