SABARIMALA … Supreme Court to hear pleas after three weeks; on women entry in Ayyappa shrine


UPDATE: The Supreme Court has postponed by three weeks the hearing on the Sabarimala pleas — some 60 petitions — which were taken up for consideration on Monday. -IHN-NN

NEW DELHI: The highly contentious issue of all-women entry in Sabarimala — a court order which led to protests by a section of devotees in Kerala a year ago — is coming up for hearing at the Supreme Court on Monday. A nine-judge bench headed by CJI Sharad A Bobde will hear petitions in this connection. The apex court had, in September 2018, granted entry to women of all ages to Sabarimala, the seat of Lord Ayyappa, after setting aside a tradition-imposed bar on entry of women of menstrual age—age 10 and 50.
The apex court agreed to a review of its order and stated in November 2018 that the issue was intertwined with similar demands from women for entry in Muslim mosques and Parsi fire temples – and the matter had to be viewed from a broader perspective. A central issued involved in all these is the right to equality in worship, cutting across genders. The argument advanced against entry of women of menstrual age in Sabarimala was that the Lord is installed in the hill-top shrine in a celibate form. 


The Makara Vilakku Festival in Sabarimala is currently under way, and the culmination will be on Wednesday, when the Makara Vilakku (sacred lamp) will be up for viewing both in the hills across the temple as also the star in the sky. The events are progressing in an orderly manner this season, unlike the choas that reined in the previous festival time a year ago when the state BJP led a protest against women entry in Sabarimala even as the apex court had allowed such a plea. 

The LDF in Kerala headed by chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan drew flak last year as the CM stated he would implement the apex court order. This time, the government is taking a neutral stand, and the police is not allowing any women in between the ages of 10 and 50. IHN-NN


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