Meanwhile, the state government said they will file a fresh affidavit in the case protecting the beliefs of the devotees. Devaswom minister VS Sivakumar said that the udf government’s policy is to protect temple traditions and customs that has been followed for centuries. “When we file an affidavit in the court, we will take into consideration the beliefs and traditions,” he said.
TDB also said that they had no plans to change the age-old customs followed at Sabarimala. Prayar Gopalakrishnan, president of TDB, said that the previous LDF government was responsible for the SC’s observation.
“It is the wrong affidavit filed by the then LDF government which led to such a situation. The court has made the observation without understanding the basis of the temple’s rituals and the speciality of the presiding deity,” says Gopalakrishnan.
He also made it clear the TDB will implead in the case to protect the interests of the devotees. “The rituals of the temple have evolved as part of the tradition and custom and this has been followed for many centuries. It is the duty of the TDB to protect it at any cost,” he says.
Sudhakaran rejects arguments Sivakumar’s and Gopalakrishnan’s arguments. “Who are they to take such a decision? This is utter foolishness. No one can bar women from enjoying their fundamental rights and there were instances of women entering the Sabarimala temple. The Congress government has vested interests and they have no right to mock at the rights of women,” he says.
Swami Sandeepanandagiri, the founder of the School of Bhagavad Gita says, “The reasoning is that it is against the traditions of Hindu belief. It is ridiculous to say that the deity will lose his sanctity in the presence of women. Can’t the deity keep his celibacy intact and be free of temptations? Women should be allowed to the temple if they are willing to go.”
He also criticised the community of priests attached to the temple saying their priority is the money and not the welfare of the devotees.
However, noted poet and environmentalist, Sugathakumari says she would oppose any decision allowing women entry into Sabarimala.
“We are obliged to follow certain customs and there is no need for women to visit Sabarimala as there are many Ayyappa temples downhill where they can visit and worship,” she says.
Meanwhile, Nikita Azad, who started ‘Happy to Bleed’ campaign in response to a controversial statement made by Gopalakrishnan a month ago, tells Tehelka that the Supreme Court’s observation is highly appreciable.
“The observation has lent liveliness to the campaign and I thank the lawyers who moved such a petition before the court. I hope it would lead to more discussions in the country regarding the entry of menstruating women in all temples.”
Azad also says that her campaign was well received by the youngsters of the country and especially Kerala. She believes that the campaign has helped in democratising the debate.
“It is the combination of the movement and the firm stands of the lawyers that led to such a discussion,” she adds.
Hindu Aikyavedi state general secretary, RV Babu says, “Since the issue is internal to Hindu religion and can hurt the Hindu sentiments, the court was not supposed to interfere in the matter. It is better that the priests and the temple authorities decide on it.”
He says Hindu Aikyavedi has no objection to changing the ritualistic practices according to changing times but it should be done only after proper discussion.
Meanwhile, the BJP has responded to the controversy with caution. The state president Kummanam Rajasekharan has opined that it would be better to leave decisions on temple practices to religious scholars and that the court has only made an observation on it.