As if it wasn’t enough to bar women of menstruating age at Kerala’s famous Sabarimala temple, now Travancore Devaswom Board, which manages the temple, wants women to carry proof of age to enter into the sanctum sanctorum.
Women who are in the menstruating age of 10 to 50 are barred from entering the temple.
The new rule clearly says: Women who wish to offer players at the Sabarimala temple are required to carry proof of age to enter into the sanctum.
The board’s president, Prayar Gopalakrishnan, said, “We request all women devotees to carry age proof while visiting Sabarimala. We want to ensure that only women above 50 years of age gain entry into the temple.”
He explained that women devotees would only be allowed to enter the popular hill shrine of Sabarimala once security personnel at the gate verify their age. “It is difficult to judge women’s age by their appearance. That is why we decided to ask for age certificates,” he added.
While this old patriarchal custom of barring women of reproductive ages is an imposition and an act of gender-bias, how long will it be for India’s cultural society to think of women as an equal half and not judge them based on the most baseless reasons?
Recently, women’s entry into the temple was fodder for much gossip after a photograph of a group of women offering prayers at Sabarimala went viral on social media. Some people raised doubts about the women’s age in the photo, which was taken on April 11, saying that a few of them were below 50 years.
It was Bharatiya Janata Party leader T G Mohandas who tweeted the photo first, raising concern that the women were less than 50.
Later, however, the State Vigilance Department conducted an inquiry, ordered by the state government, and it was found that no woman had violated the temple rules and that their ages were properly verified before they entered the sanctum.
The Sabarimala temple caught attention last year when the Bombay high court lifted restrictions imposed on women at the Haji Ali Dargah in Mumbai. A petition was put up before the Supreme Court to challenge the temple’s customs.
(With inputs from PTI)
Feature Image Credit: India Today
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