A welcome decision

The controversy that was so long raging over the entry of women between 10 and 50 in the Sabarimala Temple in Kerala may now be resolved as the Devaswom Board has agreed to the entry of women into the temple. Devaswom in Malayali means the Property of God. The Devaswom Board is a socio-religious trust that has nominees of both the government and the community. It manages Hindu temples and trusts. The Sabarimala temple is managed by the Travancore Devaswom Board. It has suddenly agreed to the entry of women of all ages. Its spokesmen have said that barring the entry of half the population (women) cannot be justified. Though belated, the decision is welcome. It may be recalled that trouble over Sabarimala started when the Supreme Court directed that women of all ages be allowed entry into the shrine. But a body of Hindu Right wing was bent on preventing the entry of women. It is due them that attempt after attempt by women to enter the temple failed. These people were adamant that “tradition” (of disallowing women’s entry) gets precedence over the Constitution and the law and even the Supreme Court directive. One saw the same type of totally irrational stand of the Right-wingers on the Babri Masjid issue. They maintained that where Lord Rama was born was a “matter of faith” and did not depend on archaeological evidence or Supreme Court order.
Those that were determined to prevent the entry of women in Sabarimala demanded that the Supreme Court review its decision. Some 35 Review Petitions are now before the Supreme Court. Now the Devaswom Board has urged the petitioners to withdraw their petition. Whether they agree to do so remains to be seen. If the apex court reiterates its earlier decision on temple entry of women of all ages, will the conservative elements still flout the Supreme Court and try to prevent the entry of women by using physical force? And if they do, what will the CPI- M Government in Kerala do about it? As Hindu sentiments are involved, a political party, especially a ruling one, will naturally have to take into account the likely impact of these sentiments   on the ballot box. So long the Pinarayi Vijayan Government, though welcoming the apex court directive, seemed hesitant to intervene and make it possible for women to enter the temple. Now that the Devaswom Board has given up its earlier stand and agreed to allow women into the temple, it should be easier for the Kerala Government to deal with such intransigent people.

Thursday, 7 February, 2019