Sabarimala Tantri (chief priest) Kandararu Rajeevararu on Friday said he respected the Supreme Court order permitting entry for women of all age groups to Sabarimala even though the customs and practices did not permit it.
Talking to The Hindu , Mr. Rajeevararu said there had never been any ban on women’s entry to Sabarimala. Instead, menstruating women were not permitted to enter Sabarimala adhering to the unique tantric character of the presiding deity installed at the Ayyappa temple in the form of a persistent bachelor (naishtika brahmachari) and this could not be treated as gender discrimination.
The issue pertained to the ritualistic tradition at Sabarimala and the temple authorities might explore the possibility of initiating appropriate legal steps to address the issue.
“I do not think any woman devotee of Lord Ayyappa, who knows the tradition and customs at Sabarimala, will violate the same even if she is asked to do so,” the Tantri said.
Akhila Bharatha Ayyappa Seva Sanghom general secretary N.Velayudhan Nair termed the Supreme Court order disappointing. The court verdict, he said, would destroy the unique ritualistic tradition and practices at Sabarimala.
“Sacrificing the unique ritualistic tradition at Sabarimala in the name of social justice was unfortunate. It is high time Hindus stood united to protect temple rituals and practices,” Mr. Nair said.
Brahmana federation stance
The Supreme Court order would have far-reaching consequences as it would destroy the very concept of Sabarimala pilgrimage, All-India Brahmana Federation vice president and vice president of the Sabarimala Ayyappa Seva Samajom Kalidasa Bhattathiri said.
Mr. Bhattathiri said the restrictions imposed on menstruating women at Sabarimala could never be treated as superstition.