Moments after Supreme Court’s verdict on Friday of allowing women of all ages to enter the Ayyappa temple in Sabarimala, Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) President A Padmakumar said that the board will go for a review petition after getting support from other religious heads. He also said the verdict will be studied in detail and further course of action will be decided after that.
Padmakumar said the board had informed the court that they wanted to continue with the existing ritual practices, but now they have no other option but to implement the verdict. The board, he said, will take steps to execute the apex court directive. It will study the judgement seriously, he said.
Reacting to the verdict, Sabarimala head priest Kandararu Rajeevarau said it was “disappointing” but the shrine board will accept it.
Rahul Easwar, President of the Ayyappa Dharma Sena, said they were going for a review petition. Easwar is the grandson of late Sabarimala priest Kandararu Maheswararu, who died in May 2018.
The court pronounced its verdict on a clutch of pleas challenging the ban on entry of women of menstrual age in Kerala’s Sabarimala temple and said law and society are tasked with the task to act as levellers.
A five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, in its 4:1 verdict, said banning entry of women to Kerala’s Sabarimala temple is gender discrimination and the practice violates rights of Hindu women.
“Devotees of Lord Ayyappa are Hindus, don’t constitute a separate religious denomination. No physiological and biological factor can be given legitimacy if it doesn’t pass the test of conditionality. Restrictions put by Sabarimala temple can’t be held as essential religious practice,” he said.
“The practice of barring women in age group of 10-50 to go inside the temple is violative of constitutional principles.”
CJI Misra also said that the right to worship cannot be subjected to gender discrimination and that in a country where women are worshipped as goddesses, such restrictions cannot be placed.