Sabarimala Tradition: Doubts and Answers.

There was chat between two brothers on the Sabarimala Issue on Facebook. one brother was an atheist while the other an theist. They had a very sensible debate on a very heated topic. I found it worth sharing so here it is… 

Me: Questions please!!!

Bro: Women have the right to enter the temple. And no one has a f**k in right to stop them.
Not even the god sitting inside.
No matter bleeding or normal, no God will ever treat his devotee untouchable!
All those bhakts (bhakts of Ayyappa) protesting for not letting women in are just fighting for nothing but anti ‘women’s rights’

Me: Temple is not a place of prayer… They are build for specific purposes…!
Temples are not places for social activities where everyone can claim a right…!
Temples are places where Beliefs are preserved!!!
Bleeding in Our Religion is never taken as impure… We have a temple of the bleeding Goddess called the Kamakhya Devi temple in Assam…!
300000 women believe in Ayyappa and they patiently waited outside the temple because the know the actual Tradition and hence are the true Devotees!!!
3 among the 2 women who tried to enter the temple were not Hindus… And the third was just doing her task assigned by her Company…!
Now where is the true Devotee here???

Bro:  Were those 300000 women supposed to be entering temple later ? Just clarify for me…

Me: Those Women have noted a sincere and nonviolent protest against the ones entering the temple!!!

Bro:  After the verdict….
Were women peacefully allowed inside?

Me: when it was clear that the situation was critical… Why were the 3 activists forced to enter with 100 policemen???
Is the 3 women’s ego more imp than the critical situation!!!???

Bro: Those 3 women are idiot. Let’s keep them aside. That’s not my concern.
All I am asking is are those 300000 women who were waiting out,
allowed later into temple?

Me: If those women have the intention to enter the temple then would have joint the 3 activists!!!
But they didn’t!!!
They respected the tradition and the Deity!!!

Bro: Tell me why women should not go inside temple?
It’s not that 300000 woman didn’t, that means they’re right. They might be victims of misogyny too…

Maybe those 3 are standing for the right….which the 3 lakhs are ignorant about ! 
Why not women? What religion stops them?

Me: Constitution runs on Logic and Proofs!!!
Religion lives on Beliefs and faith!!!
It is the Belief that sees the Divine God in the Stone!!!
But logic will see stone as a stone!!!
That’s the difference!!!

Bro: Why not let women pray to that stone?

Me: If u think it’s a stone then where comes the question of praying???
Religion is beyond Logic!!!

Bro:   It’s not about me here…..
Why disallow women…who have faith of God in that stone?

Me: Do u think anyone of the activists was a sincere devotee??
Can u defend even a single one???

Bro:  They were definitely devotees of woman rights. And maybe their success would have let to 300000 women finally worshiping Ayyappa again…
Our point of concern is not those 3 ladies.
Just a simple point. Why shouldn’t women enter ? As simple as that..
Why not women?

Because if “tradition” or “religion” is all that you have ..
Then triple talaq too should have not been interrupted.
Give a solid base. Why not women inside?

I’m not expecting logic….
But people’s reason for not allowing women. That might also be some faith mentioned in some religious texts. If written somewhere…show us that at least.
Not necessarily demanding logic from you. But a source of action.

Me: Nice Question!!!

Ayyappa is a Celibate Deity!!!
Who sat in penance in Sabarimala, abstained from sex and alcohol. It’s the deity’s will that anyone who followed the 41 day penance that he suffered along with all the other rules that I have noted in My_Blog_Sabarimala_Tradition then and then only he would give Darshan to the Devotee!!!
The penance that the true Devotee goes through is his own experience of life, that makes him closer to the deity.!!

Earlier when there were no modes of transport this ritual was started. The Terrain if u see is very difficult. Surrounded by the Tigers and the wild life’s then!!!
In such a condition the devotee has to spend the 41 days of penance!!!
This u could say as test of the devotee!!!

But if see that a women in her fertile age has to suffers few days of pain in their menstruation cycle!!
Women have to face this condition even in the days of penance at least once!!!
This made the trekking of the women miserable and hence in-completion of the test of penance.
Keeping this in mind the then priests hence made a law or a rule to keep the fertile age women away from the trekking and so the penance. Once they complete this age they are free to visit!!!
That’s why the traditional of waiting was installed in the women of the particular age group!!!

This is followed in respect to the Deity!!!
This is not a discrimination… It’s a respect to the Deity!!!!
This does not exploit a women’s life or an individual like the Triple Talaq!!!

In Triple Talaq the women is exploited!
Here it’s not the case!!!
Even the Devasom Board accepted the entry of those women who completes the journey of penance!!!
But the point was over thrown by the SC!!!
Hindus have deep faith in the Ayyappa!!!
That’s y the 300000 Hindu Women waited and the 3 activists
2 non Hindus and one a planted journalists created the scene to gain TRP!!

Bro:  So women are allowed after a certain age?

Me: It’s not about who is allowed it’s about what is the best for an Individual… Taking in account all the factors!!!

Bro:  Do all devotees need to go through that physical test of penance to enter and pray to Ayyappa?

Me: Yes… The penance is the core of the Tradition!!!

Bro: Are women allowed after fertile age?

Me: Yes… Women below 10 and above 50 are only involved in the penance!!

Bro: What if woman of age 30 comes and agrees to go through penance and that she can go through all of it…..will you let her ?

Me: who m I to let her… The point was put before the SC… but Lawyer Manu Singhvi denied it… And the SC too…

But it was only the Women who understood and knew the importance of Faith in Hindu Society… That’s y the only Lady Judge gave her verdict against the dominating males….!

Bro: You means not literally you….
Anyone related to Sabarimala is what I meant to ask
Well… We don’t completely know what arguments had been given in the court. Maybe there was a strong counter which led to 2 judges go otherwise.
Who knows!’

Me: I have read an article where I got this piece of info!!!

Me:Any questions bro???

And a long silence…!


Sabarimala Tradition

We all are aware of the Sabarimala Verdict by the SC. The Supreme Court has abolished the ban on Women between the age group of 10-50 which is their fertile years. Earlier the Kerala High Court had maintained the ban where the State Government itself supported this position in 1991. Now the issue has come up once again so we need to look into it from all the possible perspectives.
In this blog we would see what the actual tradition of the Sabarimala Shrine is! Later in other blogs we will discuss on other perspectives along with the issues related to the Shrine.
Ayyappa Swami is an Hindu Deity, a Representative of the God. He is a Naishtika Brahmachari deity which means a celibate deity. According to a story Swami Ayyappa decided to live the life of a celibate. He restrained himself from not only marriage but any sort of contact with the feminine gender. He lived his life in the penance and also abstained from any sort of distortion like alcohol, etc. In his respect his father build a temple which is today’s Sabarimala temple, where the deity resided and spent his days of penance. He also resolved to solve the problems and questions of his devotees who successfully completes the 41 days of penance consisting of different difficult challenges and activities. This is somehow similar to the Pandharpur Vaari that is held in the Maharashtra. Let us see some of the important rules followed bu the devotees.
  • The devotees are expected to dress-up like sadhus only in blue and black. 
  • They are expected to fast partly, and eat only certain type of pure veg food.
  • This is 18 miles long group trek, which consists of people without any caste or social discrimination. 
  • There are men of all the ages joining the trek. 
  • Young girls and older women also join. But the women between the fertility age group are advised not to trek for certain reasons which will be discussed in brief. 
  • During the trek all the devotees call each other ‘Swami’. 
  • The devotees wear simple dress on the day of the pilgrimage up the hills and through the forest, many go barefoot, carry irumudi (a walking stick for regional Hindu yogis with two compartment little bag sometimes carried on head), wear Tulsi leaves and Rudraksha beads around their neck (symbolism for Vishnu and Shiva) while fellow Hindus gather along the trek path, cheering and helping them complete their journey
  • They collect flowers from the western ghats to offer the deity. 
  • Also they are needed to bathe in the Pambar river before they visit the actual Sabarimala temple.
  • During the entire trek all the devotees are expected to restrain from any kind of violence, sex, and alcoholism. 
  • All their mind should be focused only in the devotion for Ayyappa, which is the main motive.
  • After the long trek there are 18 divine steps to the sanctum sanctorum of the Ayyappa Swamy Temple.
  • Each step is a sacred one with a very deep meaning and understanding.
  • Only the one’s completing the 41 days trek are allowed to walk through these steps.
This all about the Sabarimala Shrine and its divine rituals. Now  let us see some important significance of the temple.
  • The temple is not like the regular temple, it is opened only at few occasions throughout the year. Like during the Mandal Pooja, Makar Sankranti, Maha Vishnu Sankranti and the first 5 days of every Malayalam month.
  • There are number of other temples of the same deity across the world. But rules for women to visit the shrine is only followed in this Temple only. The reason behind this is the temple being the first of its kind where all the rules for the devotees are followed very strictly by the Devasom and the Devotees. 
  • Secondly, one of the main reason is the terrain where the temple is located. The rules were made during the time where there were no transport facilities. Also it could be difficult for the women in the fertile years to do 41 day long trekking.
  • Third and important one is the belief that the deity is Naishtika Brahmachari. And every devotee who has faith in the deity and respect him will accept him as he is and respect his decision by not disturbing his celibacy. Its not a discrimination but a respect for the deity’s decision to remain a celibate.
  • The 18 sacred steps to the sanc tum sanctorum of the Shrine is divine in its own way. There are many stories related to the significance of the 18 steps. But According to one of them they say that the deity was the master of 18 weapons. Covering each step, the deity would leave each weapon on each step before entering into the Idol of the Sanctum Sanctorum.
This was all about the Tradition of the Sabarimala Shrine. In the Next blog we will cover the important issues and queries related to the Shrine and its tradition.