Mankind, since time immemorial, has been searching for explanation or
justification to substantiate a point of view that hurts humanity. The
theoretical human values remain on paper. Historically, women have been treated
with inequality and that is why, many have fought for their rights. Any
relationship with the Creator is a transcendental one crossing all socially
created artificial barriers and not a negotiated relationship bound by terms and
Such a relationship and expression of devotion cannot be
circumscribed by dogmatic notions of biological or physiological factors arising
out of rigid socio-cultural attitudes which do not meet the constitutionally
prescribed tests. Patriarchy in religion cannot be permitted to trump over the
element of pure devotion borne out of faith and the freedom to practice and
profess one's religion. The subversion and repression of women under the garb of
biological or physiological factors cannot be given the seal of legitimacy. Any
rule based on discrimination or segregation of women pertaining to biological
characteristics is not only unfounded, indefensible and implausible but can also
never pass the muster of constitutionality.
Women are exploited since existence of the human kind, they were treated as
chattel. They always treated as lower than men hence discrimination was made
from the very beginning. Now days we cannot discriminate women on the basis of
gender or weakness because they made various improvement in various field such
as law, economic, space, political, law making etc etc. Apart from these there
are various laws which prohibit the discrimination and individual as well as
state are forbid to make discrimination on the basis of gender or caste or on
any ground under the constitution of India and various other laws. It is clear
that state as well as individual cannot make discrimination but there will be
question mark if question is regarding whether God can make discrimination
between human being on the basis of gender.
History of Sabrimala Temple
Sabarimala Temple is one of the most revered and most popular shrines of Kerala.
Located at village of Sabarimala, Sri Ayyappa Temple falls in the eastern part
of Kerala bordered by Tamil Nadu. One can easily reach Sabarimala Temple by
taking regular buses or by hiring taxis from the major towns and cities of
Kerala. The nearest airports are located at Thiruvanathapuram and Kochi at a
distance of 115 kms and 106 kms from Sabarimala. The nearest railway stations to
Sabarimala are found at Kottayam and Chengannur. The temple lies on a hill Pampi
is the last destination, where transport can be reached after that one has to
travel a distance of 5 kms on foot.
The village of Sabarimala got its name from 'Shabari', a devotee who did
rigorous penance with the intention of meeting Lord Rama. Sabarimala Temple is
dedicated to Lord Ayyappa, who is regarded as the unification of Lord Shiva and
Lord Vishnu. As per the local folklore, Lord Parasurama placed the deity at the
base of Sabari Hills. Even the great Hindu epic of 'the Ramayana' confirms this
fact. The two branches of Hinduism i.e. Shaivism and Vaishnavism come together
in the form of Lord Ayyappa. Also famous as Dharma Shasta, Lord Ayyappa is also
regarded as Lord Buddha, though there is no data to verify this fact.
The dome of Sabarimala Temple is covered with gold. In the vicinity of the
temple, there is shrine dedicated to Vavar (Muslim by religion), who was an
ardent devotee of Lord Ayyappa. Suggesting the religious tolerance, the tour to
Sabarimala is said to be incomplete without the worship of Lord Vavar. From
Sabarimala Temple, People can also see Makara Vilakku, which is a holy light on
the close by hill. This light is regarded as a sign of the divine presence.
Sabarimala Sree Dharma Sastha Temple, dedicated to Lord Ayyappa, is the most
famous and prominent among all the Sastha temples in Kerala. The temple is
situated on a hilltop (about 3000 feet above sea level) named Sabarimala in
Pathanamthitta district, which is unique. The temple is open to people belonging
to all religions. There is a place near the temple; east of Sannidhanam (the
abode of Lord Ayyappa), dedicated to Vavar (a close friend of Lord Ayyappa)
which is called Vavaru Nada, an epitome of religious harmony. Another unique
aspect of this temple is that it is not open throughout the year. It is open for
worship only during the days of Mandalapooja, Makaravilakku and Vishu. It is
said that the pilgrims have to observe celibacy for 41 days before going to
Sabarimala. Pilgrims take the traditional forest routes as well as the one from
Pamba which is less physically challenging to reach the temple.
Why Women(10-50 year) are Prohibited to enter:-
It's nothing like related to menstruation period or being unclean myth of women
that they are stopped from being entering in the temple.For the answer, we need
to go back to the legend. According to the puranas, Ayappa was born to destroy a
female demon who, thanks to a boon, could only be vanquished by a child born of
both Shiva and Vishnu. When Ayappa fulfils his destiny by killing her, a
beautiful woman emerges from the body. She had been cursed to live as a demon,
but her killing reversed the curse. Now free, she asks Ayappa to marry her. He
refuses, explaining to her that his mission is to go to Sabarimala where he
would answer the prayers of his devotees. However, he assures her, he will marry
her when kanni-swamis stop coming to Sabarimala.
She now sits and waits for him
at a neighbouring shrine near the main temple and is worshipped as
Malika purathamma. With hundreds of thousands of new devotees pouring in every
year, hers will be a long wait. And that is why women do not go to Sabarimala.
It is partly out of empathy for Malika purathamma and her eternal wait and it’s
also out of respect for Ayappa's commitment to answer the prayers of his
devotees. Since he is celibate, he should not be distracted. For hundreds of
years, devotees had bought into this story. It has nothing to do with
menstruation or being unclean. Anyone who goes to Sabarimala knows that.
Before visiting Sabarimala every devotee has to take upvratham (penance) for 41
days and should stay away from alcohol, smoking, non-vegetarian food and all
othertamasicthings including sex, cutting body hair, shaving and even trimming
the nails and should not sleep on bed. They are expected to bath twice in a day
and visit the local temples regularly and only wear plain black or blue colored
traditional clothing during this time.
A group of five women lawyers has challenged Rule 3(b) of the Kerala Hindu
Places of Public Worship (Authorization of Entry) Rules, 1965, which authorizes
restriction on women “of menstruating age”. They moved the apex court after the
Kerala HC upheld the centuries-old restriction, and ruled that only the “tantri
(priest)” was empowered to decide on traditions. Senior Advocate Indira Jaising,
who represented the petitioners, said the restrictions went against Articles 14,
15 and 17 of the Constitution. She argued that the custom is discriminatory in
nature and stigmatised women, and that women should be allowed to pray at the
place of their choice.
1990- S. Mahendran files plea in Kerala HC seeking ban on women’s entry to
Apr 5, 1991- Kerala HC upholds age old restriction on women of a certain age
group entering the temple.
2006- A petition challenging the ban was fi led in the Supreme Court by Indian
Young Lawyers Association on the grounds that the rule violates the freedom to
follow and propagate religion, listed in Article 25 of the Indian Constitution.
Nov 2007- LDF government files affidavit supporting PIL questioning ban on
Jan 11, 2016- Two-judge bench of SC questions practice banning entry of women
at the temple.
Feb 6- UDF government takes U-turn, tells SC it is duty bound to “protect the
right to practice the religion of these devotees,”
Apr 21 Hind Navotthana Pratishtan and Narayanashrama Tapovanam files plea in SC
supporting entry of women.
Nov 7- SC Rejects Plea for Independent Probe into Arrests Nov 2007 LDF
government files affidavit supporting PIL questioning ban on women’s entry LDF
government files fresh affidavit in SC saying it favored the entry of women of
all age groups.
Nov 7, 2016- LDF government tells the top court that it favors entry of women of
October 13, 2017- Case is referred to a SC Constitution bench.
Oct 27- Plea filed in SC for gender equal bench to hear the case.
July 17, 2018- Five-judge constitution bench starts hearing the matter.
January 2018- Temple authorities make it mandatory for female devotees to
furnish their age proof while visiting. The decision came after a number of
women from the banned age group were detained while entering Sabarimala.
July 24- SC made it clear that the ban on entry of women would be tested on
July 26- The Pandalam Royal family challenged the petition seeking entry of
women into the temple, terming it “mischievous” on grounds of being against
practices of the Hindu faith. The lawyer appearing on their behalf had told the
court that the temple deity, Lord Ayyappa, is an eternal celibate and therefore
women of menstruating ages should not be allowed in the premises.
August 1, 2018- The five-judge Constitution bench reserved its judgment on the
petitions challenging the ban after hearing the case for eight days.
September 28, 2018- SC allows women of all age groups to enter temple. Rules
custom of barring women is violative of Art 25 (Clause 1) and Rule 3(b) of
Kerala Hindu Places of Worship.
- Whether the exclusionary practice which is based upon a biological
factor exclusive to the female gender amounts to discrimination and
thereby violates the very core of Articles 14, 15 and 17 and not protected
by morality as used
in Articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution?
- Whether the practice of excluding such women constitutes an essential
religious practice under Article 25 and whether a religious institution can
assert a claim in that regard under the umbrella of right to manage its own
affairs in the matters of religion?
- Whether Ayyappa Temple has a denominational character and, if so, is it
permissible on the part of a 'religious denomination' managed by a statutory
board and financed under Article 290-A of the Constitution of India out of the
Consolidated Fund of Kerala and Tamil Nadu to indulge in such practices
violating constitutional principles/ morality embedded in Articles 14, 15(3),
39(a) and 51-A(e)?
- Whether Rule 3 of the Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship (Authorization of
Entry) Rules permits 'religious denomination' to ban entry of women between the
age of 10 to 50 years? And if so, would it not play foul of Articles 14 and
15(3) of the Constitution by restricting entry of women on the ground of sex?
- Whether Rule 3(b) of the Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship (Authorization
of Entry) Rules, 1965 isultra virusthe Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship
(Authorization of Entry) Act, 1965 and , if treated to beintra virus, whether
it will be violative of the provisions of Part III of the Constitution?
Brief Judgment of the Case:
A five-judge Constitutional bench has ruled in favor of allowing women of all
ages to enter Kerala's most famous temple. Afive-judge Constitution bench,
headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, said that the provision in the
Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship (Authorisation of Entry) Rules, 1965,
which authorised the restriction, violatedthe right of Hindu women to practice
religion. It also said that patriarchy in religion cannot be allowed to trump
the right to pray.
The bench, which also comprised Justices R F Nariman, A M Khanwilkar, D Y
Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra, had reserved its verdict in the case on August 2
this year. Justice Malhotra, who penned a dissenting verdict, said the petition
does not deserve to be entertained.
Four judges on the bench ruled in favour of lifting the ban on women entering
Sabarimala temple. CJI Dipak Misra and Justices Khanwilkar, Nariman and
Chandrachud found the practice discriminatory in nature and that it violates
Hindu women's right to pray.
Here are top quotes from the majority judgment:
- CJI said devotion cannot be subjected to discrimination. Patriarchal
rules have to change. Patriarchy in religion cannot be allowed to trump right to
pray and practice religion, he said. Justice Khanwilkar concurred with the
- Justice Nariman: To exclude women of the age group 10-50 from the
temple is to deny dignity to women. To treat women as children of lesser
god is to blink at the Constitution
- Justice Chandrachud: Religion cannot be used as cover to deny rights
of worship to women and it is also against human dignity. Prohibition on women
is due to non-religious reasons and it is a grim shadow of
discrimination going on for centuries.
- All judgesruled that devotees of Lord Ayyappa do not constitute a
separate religious denomination.
- Justice Indu Malhotra, who wrote the dissenting judgment in the
Sabarimala case, said that the notions of rationality cannot be brought into
matters of religion. She added that the shrine and deity are protected under
Article 25 of the Constitution and that it was not upto the court to decide
which religious practices should be struck down, except in issues of social evil
like 'Sati'. Justice Malhotra, the only woman on the bench, was of the view that
the petition does not deserve to be entertained.
Effect of the Judgment:
A Malayalam meme doing the rounds post the Supreme Court’s judgment on
Sabarimala depicted Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan (actor Jayaram in the
meme) inside a police station lock-up, pleading with people to trust him that he
was not the one who allowed the entry of women of all ages into the Sabarimala
temple, but the Supreme Court.
This was a meme made by the CM's supporters aimed at those who overlooked the
fact that the judgement was pronounced by the top court, as there are many
social media posts and comments which say that the verdict is the result of
progressive thinking of the Left government.
It should also be noted that the previous United Democratic Front (UDF)
government, led by the Congress, had said that the entry of women into the
temple should be restricted. During the tenure of the UDF government from 2011
to 2016, the Travancore Devaswom Board (which controls the affairs of the
temple), led by its president and former Congress MLA Prayar Gopalakrishnan, had
also said in its affidavit that the ban shouldn’t be lifted.
How political parties make use of the verdict
A section of Hindu voters believe that right-wing organisations protect their
traditions and rituals. Post the Sabarimala verdict, this has been used as a
tool against the CPI(M)-led Left government, primarily because the LDF
government had informed the court that they were not against women's entry.
On the other hand, the CPI(M) also played a tactical game. While the Left
Democratic Front (LDF) government said that it was in support of lifting the
ban, the Travancore Devaswom Board, now under its direct control, took the
The Congress has also been playing a double game. Though Opposition leader
Ramesh Chennithala, in his initial response, had said that everyone is bound to
obey the SC verdict, he changed his stand later.
“The entry of women into Sabarimala had never been banned, but there were
restrictions in the name of certain rituals, he said on the day of the verdict.
But, he later changed his stand and said that the Devaswom Board should file a
review petition against the verdict. He also said that the Supreme Court had not
taken into consideration the social impact of the judgment.
In last it may be concluded that Sabrimala Judgment brings great changes in
relation to entry of women in the Sabrimala temple. Side by side it created
controversy between the individual as the priests of the temple are not favor in
the judgment rather they against the judgment and make protest against the
judgment, from the date of the judgment the priest of the temple protesting
against the judgment together by sitting in front of the temple.
In my opinion Supreme Court has no authority to interfere in the internal matter
of any particular religion. Because under Article 25 freedom of religion is
there in which one can practice, propagate, follow any religion of his choice,
since India is a secular democratic country it has no religion of its own and it
cannot interfere in any internal matter of the religion. It is true that there
is violation of Article 14, 15, 17 of the constitution in the sabrimala temple
since it prohibit the entry of woman of ages of 10 to 50 years on the basis of
gender, but these violations are the internal matter of the religion and what is
the reason for such discrimination may be immaterial because this not under the
purview of the constitution because it has freedom under Article 25 of the
For example in Muslim Law male are allowed to marry up to four
wives if he can make justice among his wives but such rights is not there to the
woman, here also Supreme Court has no authority to interfere and to alter any
rule or any spiritual followings. Religion is the different thing which is based
on the faith and worship so there cannot be question of violation because
religious law is kind of divine in nature and also sacrament, however sometime
some people shows the manmade law as religious law that is different thing. Let
them free to practice and propagate their own religion and freedom worship.
- History of Sabrimala Temple, available at: https://www.culturalindia.net/indian-temples/sabarimala-temple.html/
(Visited on 3rdNov 2018)
- About Sabrimala temple, available at: http://sabarimala.kerala.gov.in/
(Visited on 03rd Nov 2018)
- Regarding women entry in the Sabrimala temple, available at: https://www.firstpost.com/india/why-women-are-barred-from-sabarimala-its-not-because-they-are-unclean-2583694.html
(Visited on 03rdNov 2018)
- Case summary, available at: https://indianexpress.com/article/what-is/what-is-the-sabarimala-case-5376596/(Visited
on 03rdNov 2018)
- Young Indian Lawyers Association V. State of Kerala sc18956 / 2006
(decided on 28thSept 2018)
- Effect of Sabrimala judgment, available at: https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/political-impact-sabarimala-verdict-how-will-parties-use-judgement-89341
(Visited on 03rd Nov 2018)
Articles on Sabarimala:
Devotion Cannot Be Subjected To Gender Discrimination, SC Allows Women Entry
In Sabarimala By 4:1 Majority
Violation of Woman right in Sabrimala Temple
Sabrimala Case Verdict
All about the Sabrimala Temple
Religion and Equality in Liberal Constitutionalism
A Year of Constitutional Morality
Sabarimala - Prejudices, Misconceptions and Ignorance