Will Fight For Lord Ayyappa’s Right To Privacy, Says Activist Rahul Easwar

The Ayyappa temple in Sabarimala — the subject of Friday’s ruling and considered one of the holiest for Hindus — has traditionally barred all women of menstruating age, between 10 and 50.

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Activist Rahul Easwar, a prominent face of the campaign that challenged the entry of women between the ages of 10 and 50 at Kerala’s famous Sabarimala Temple, has said the Supreme Court’s order today will be appealed to a larger bench.
In a four-one majority verdict, the top court today revoked restrictions on women entering the temple following a 20-year legal battle, ruling that patriarchy cannot be allowed to trump faith.

Read more: Sabarimala Temple Now Open To Women Of All Ages, Says Supreme Court

Rahul Easwar, president of the Ayyappa Dharma Sena, said they were going for a review petition. Mr Easwar is the grandson of Sabarimala priest Kandararu Maheswararu, who died in May this year.

“Our core argument is that presiding deity of Sabarimala shrine has some peculiarities. The deity is in the form of ‘Naishtika Brahmachari’ and has certain rights to uphold the privacy of the deity. And the deity’s private space is the temple, so we were expecting a much more balanced verdict,” he said.

“We will certainly a review petition. We will definitely go ahead with this fight because it affects the very core of temple belief and temple systems. Article 25 will be diluted… We still have the legal remedy with us. Until October 16 the temple is closed too, so we have time,” he added.

The Ayyappa temple in Sabarimala — the subject of Friday’s ruling and considered one of the holiest for Hindus — has traditionally barred all women of menstruating age, between 10 and 50.

The temple’s rule emanated from the still widely-held belief in India that menstruating women are “impure”. In rural pockets of the country, many women are still made to sleep and eat separately during menstruation.

The custom in the temple in the southern state of Kerala was challenged by a clutch of petitioners who argued that women cannot be denied the constitutional right to worship.

“To treat women as children of a lesser god is to blink at the constitution itself,” said Justice DY Chandrachud, part of the five-judge bench that gave a majority verdict on Friday.

(With inputs from agencies)

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