Kerala’s Sabarimala Temple today opened its doors to let all devotees enter the inner sanctum, but it still seems to be a no-go zone for women. And this, despite the recent Supreme Court order allowing entry to women.
A few women, including a few female journalists who were present at the spot to cover the protest, were reportedly attacked by the protesters. One of the women, Libi CS, faced angry opposition at the Pathanamthitta new bus stand on Wednesday morning. She was travelling from Cherthala to go to Sabarimala temple in Pamba. Libi CS is a journalist and editor of a news website called Newsgil. As soon as she arrived at the Pathanamthitta bus stand, the protesters surrounded her. However, the police too reached swiftly and helped Libi out.
Over the last few days, protesters from various Hindu outfits like Shiv Sena have formed a group and are attacking women who try to cross the base camp. They have gone to the extent of claiming that if women set foot inside the temple, then they will commit mass suicide.
For centuries, women were barred from entering the temple because people believe that Lord Ayyappa is a celibate and that no woman of menstruating age should visit the shrine.
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The attack on Libi came after she announced her desire to visit the temple a few hours ago. The protesters, comprising both young men and women, were therefore fully prepared. Saritha Balan, a journalist with The News Minute, also faced the wrath of protesters.
“I have no intention of entering the temple, I am only here to cover the protests. This should have been clear from my attire — I’m wearing jeans and a kurta. Then how can they claim I was trying to enter the temple in the guise of a devotee?” said Saritha.
“If they did not want reporters to cover the protest, why did the BJP invite the media for coverage?” she asked, TNM reported. Apart from her, Republic TV’s journalist Pooja Prasanna and her crew also faced mob ire as protesters smashed their car and stole their equipment.
A Thiruvananthpuram-based teacher Nandakumar spoke to SheThePeople.TV about the situation. “The situation is inflammatory. Many people are blocking roads, stopping vehicles to see if women are sitting inside. Yesterday, the mob attacked one or two women and most of the protesters are women themselves. Women are attacking women, which is the most striking thing. They are openly claiming that women are impure and so should not enter the temple.”
“Yesterday, there was another protest by the Ayyappa Seva Sangam which is a group of religiously bigoted people,” said Nandakumar.
When the petition reached the Supreme Court, there was a hash tag that went viral across the country, saying #HappyToBleed. At the same time, a few women started another hash tag, saying #ReadyToWait, implying that they are ready to wait till 50 when they stop menstruating to enter the temple
A Thiruvananthapuram-resident, Prejish, opposed the verdict and said, “Why I am against this verdict is because Sabarimala is not against women’s entry! For so many years, lakhs of women are visiting Sabarimala. But unfortunately, many are calling it discrimination against women. There is an age restriction in Sabarimala. Also, in a temple called Melvaruvathur in Chennai, women only have the right to undertake a particular ritual. Also, in Koovakam, the transgender are permitted to undertake a ritual. So this Dharma gives all sort of diversities to many sections. It is not discrimination, but a diversity.”
While the temple does not stop women from entering the premises, saying that menstruating women cannot enter implies that menstruation is impure or makes women impure. Women across the world are fighting against the stigma attached to menstruation and this is not the time to stop that fight.
Picture credit- Twitter