Thiruvananthapuram: Following India’s Supreme Court’s decision on Thursday to refer the question of whether or not to permit women to enter the Sabarimala temple in Kerala to a larger bench, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders in the state reiterated that they would not brook any attempt to infringe the temple’s tradition.
Traditionally, the Sabarimala temple in Kerala’s Pathanamthitta district has prevented women of menstruating age from making a pilgrimage.
This tradition was shaken last year when the apex court ruled that the tradition was discriminatory to women.
Following the ruling, several women made attempts to pray at the temple and were physically blocked by the conservatives who swear by the temple’s tradition.
Following the apex courts verdict, all the senior leaders of the BJP on Thursday made it clear that the party was not agreeable to the idea of letting women pilgrims into the temple.
Veteran BJP leader and former Mizoram governor Kummanam Rajasekharan said, “If there is an attempt to get women into the temple under cover of the fact that the court did not stay its previous judgement, there will be serious consequences”.
The grey area in Thursday’s judgement is the fact that the court has not quashed its previous judgement that permitted women’s entry.
Chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan did not immediately respond to the issue, but the minister for Devaswoms (the body that manages temples in Kerala) said the government would not let anyone “politically exploit the situation”.
All senior leaders of the BJP stayed defiant about maintaining the temple’s tradition of keeping women out.
“The decision of the court to refer the matter to a larger bench is a blow for the stand taken by Kerala government. Just because the court has not stayed its previous verdict, no one should attempt to disgrace the temple’s tradition”, said BJP state general secretary, K. Surendran.
Veteran leader and BJP’s only MLA in the Kerala assembly, O. Rajagopal warned of “strong rebuff if anyone attempts to break the tradition at the Sabarimala temple in the name of renaissance”.
Congress veteran and Kerala Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala welcomed the court ruling. He said the government should not attempt to get women into the temple, as it did last year, merely because the court did not stay its previous verdict.
Women firm on entry
Just as traditionalists are defiant about blocking women from the temple, women pilgrims too stayed firm about making further attempts to visit the hill shrine.
Roughly three dozen women have already made online bookings for pilgrimage at Sabarimala in the forthcoming pilgrim season.
Kanaka Durga, a woman who attempted the pilgrimage last year, said she would repeat the pilgrimage this year, too.