Sabarimala temple reopens today: Two days after the Supreme Court suspended the sentence on the Sabarimala matter, the Lord Ayappa Temple is all decided to open now for the Mandala Pooja festival. Women of all age organisations will be permitted to enter the Temple, however, no security will be given to the women. Gates of the controversial Sabarimala Mandir are set to start today for the anniversary Mandala pilgrimage.

Women fitness activist Trupti Desai, who has been a fierce critic of the restriction on the entry of women of a special age group, said she would be visiting the Temple after 20 November regardless of whether or not she is provided security cover, as reported by ANI.

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As pilgrims have already begun making their way to the Sabarimala temple, what now wants to be seen is whether partners would be able to enter the Temple or not.

What is the Sabarimala issue?

The Travancore Devaswom Board has, since 1951, reduced the entry of women of menstrual age (between 10 years and 50 years) from entering the Sabarimala temple. The notification made legally binding since 1965 and was upheld by the Kerala High Court in 1991.

On 28 September 28 September, 2018, the Supreme Court opened the Temple to women of all ages. The decision turned Kerala into the war zone. Sangh Parivar and Hindu organisations started blocking women of the menstrual period from entering Temple.

The then Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dipak Misra had stated that the particular ban on women was contrary an “essential part” of Hinduism, and instead of a form of “religious patriarchy”.

Massive protests witness at Nilakkal and Pamba base camps on 17 October 2018, when the Temple opened for the 1st time after the Supreme Court verdict. Protesters reportedly assaulted women activists, journalists, and other women who were trying to enter the Temple. People stole camera equipment of women journalists and even damaged a vehicle. The police also attacked in the protest.

Shockingly, several women were among the protesters trying to restrict women from entering the Temple, checking cars to see if they included women of menstruating age & helping with the roadblocks.

Supreme Court defers its verdict

The 5-judge bench of the apex court, led by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi, referred the issues to a larger bench, to consider the limits of the powers of the apex court in deciding conflicts between religion and other rights.

“The debate about the legal validity of practices entailing into the limitation of entry of women usually in the place of worship is not limited to this case, 

but also arises in respect of entry of Muslim women in a dargah/mosque Parsi women married to a non-Parsi holy fireplace of an Agyari” observed the bench in a 3:2 majority decision.

The majority verdict, penned by CJI Ranjan Gogoi, Justice AM Khanwilkar and Indu Malhotra, observed that the apex court should “tread cautiously” on issues of religion, including religious practices.

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This verdict means different things for different people. For the devotees and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Supreme Court’s opinion offers excellent relief. The court has endorsed their stand that traditions of the Temple to followed. “The decision of the five-member Constitution Bench is a relief and hope for the devotees. I hope that nobody will meddle with the faith and tradition of the Temple,” Chief Priest of Sabarimala Temple Kandararu Rajeevaru told media.

However, Women’s rights activists believe that since the court had not issued any stay on the entry of women, the 2018 verdict which allowed the entrance of women to the Temple would continue to hold sway.

No police protection for women

According to sources, the Kerala government has decided that the police will not be providing security to women activists visiting the Sabarimala temple.

Several ministers in the Pinarayi Vijayan cabinet have said that law and order must be maintained and “women activists should be keep away from the Sabarimala temple”.

Kerala Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran on Friday said that “Sabarimala is not a place for activism and the LDF government would not support those who make announcements about entering the hill shrine for the sake of publicity”.Finally, Sabarimala temple reopens today.

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