The Supreme Court verdict permitting women of all ages to offer worship at Sabarimala, which raises memories of the Vaikom and Guruvayur satyagrahas and the royal fiat allowing ‘untouchables’ to enter temple precincts in Travancore in the first half of the last century, appears to have left the mainstream political leadership in the State a little dazed, resulting in mixed reactions from different corners of the political spectrum.
The CPI(M) and the government have welcomed it as a ‘historic verdict’, but the leadership of the Congress and the BJP have chosen not to make their stand clear.
CPI(M) State secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan felt that the Supreme Court verdict would put an end to the discrimination against women at Sabarimala. However, Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala felt that though everyone was bound to abide by the Supreme Court verdict, the customs and rituals based on which places of worship in the country functioned could not be lost sight of.
BJP State president P.S. Sreedharan Pillai also said the same when reporters reached out to him for his views on the SC verdict on Friday.
‘Efforts for consensus’
On his part, TDB president A. Padmakumar said the effort of the board would be to build a consensus on the issue.
The government appears averse to antagonise powerful community leaderships by being proactive and the TDB seems worried about the many tricky issues it would have to tackle once women begin arriving at Sabarimala, which is hardly a gender-friendly place now.
While the challenge of maintaining law and order would have to be tackled by the government, the main worry of the Travancore Devaswom Board would be about creating the necessary infrastructure to accommodate the women devotees.
And nobody is sure whether the verdict would indeed result in sudden influx of women devotees into the hill shrine, given the ‘let-things-be-the-way-they-were’ stance that many women approached by reporters for their views on the SC verdict seemed to have.