Kerala to Probe If ‘Women of Menstruating Age’ Entered Sabarimala

The Kerala government has now ordered a probe into the matter.

Three women are standing next to a priest, praying to a deity, two of them with their backs to (presumably) a cell phone camera. This photograph is now the latest battleground for the people fighting the Sabarimala war: Should women under the age of 50 be allowed to enter the shrine?

The photograph has created a stir on social media, with many people claiming that the women were not over 50, and therefore, should not have been allowed inside the shrine.

And in a confused move, the Kerala government, which had recently said that they support the entry of women into Sabarimala, has now announced a probe into the allegations that young women were allowed into the shrine.

Kerala Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran said that the Devaswom board had asked state Vigilance and anti-Corruption bureau to probe into these allegations.

“In Sabarimala, many things happen according to the whims and fancies of Devaswom authorities. I understand that one among them took these women along with him,” the Minister told media persons.

I have also heard that just for his convenience, some pooja on that day was also changed. A detailed probe is necessary in this matter. It is time to stop the interference of these rich people in Sabarimala.

The Controversy

The Sabarimala temple in Kerala’s Pattanamthitta district is situated amidst hills, and is one of the largest Hindu pilgrimage centres in the country. Women and girls between the ages of 10 and 50 – essentially, women of menstruating age – are not allowed to undertake the pilgrimage or visit the temple.

The belief is that since Ayyappa, the main deity at the temple, is celibate, the presence of women would be distracting to him.

On 12 April, TG Mohandas – a right wing activist and the convenor of BJP’s intelligence cell – tweeted a photo of women reportedly praying at the sanctum sanctoram of the Sri Ayappa temple in Sabarimala, with the comment, “Hope these girls are above 50!”

Mohandas also said in subsequent tweets that this regularly happens in Sabarimala, while clarifying that he is not against women entering the shrine.

However, many reacted to his tweet saying the picture was photoshopped and that it might be from a different temple.

Writer and activist Rahul Easwar immediately responded to Mohandas’ tweet, saying, “Very good that it is reported. And action should be taken against police n devaswom (sic) board staff for violating High Court Order.”

But a few days later, he tweeted again – this time with more photos, apparently of the same women. Rahul Easwar said that the photos posted by Mohandas weren’t fake, but clarified that the women were all over the age of 50.

Some others also have responded to the tweet saying the women are above the age of 50.

(This article was originally published in The News Minute)

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