My thoughts and opinions have been shaped by the articles I have read online, via various news organizations, and videos of debates of the same on YouTube.
I started with a neutral stance – I am neither a devotee of Ayyappa nor an advocate of the law being discriminatory to women.
In essence, I believe the verdict was right. The reason being, not because it was against equal rights, but that there shouldn’t have been a law that banned women from Sabarimala in the first place. India being a secular country, I don’t believe it should’ve passed a law in the first place, as the government cannot intervene on any religious matters. It is not under their jurisdiction. Whether women enter the shrine despite the rules and regulations of the Sabarimala Dewaswom Board (SDB), is up to the SDB entirely.
How the devotees handle themselves when going to the temple is up to them entirely.
Now, whether women should be allowed into Sabarimala is a different question. My previous point was merely to illustrate that it had nothing to do with the government.
The exclusion of women from Sabarimala between the ages of 10 to 50 is not discrimination for two reasons.
The weaker argument, the first point, would be to say that women who are not between the ages of 10 to 50 are actually allowed to enter, which comprises of lakhs of devotees who go every year. The rebuttal to this would be, why is it considered impure if a woman menstruates? Didn’t God create women? Isn’t it only natural?
This comes to my second point.
In the lore of Ayyappa, it is not mentioned that menstruation is impure. That is misinformation. The truth is that women who menstruate are capable of reproduction. Ayyappa, a practicing Naishtika Brahmachari, abstains from contact with women capable of sexual reproduction. Being a Naishtika Brahmachari entails total control of organs and emotions, including sexual impulses. Another reason is out of respect to Ayyappa’s promise to Maalikapurathamma (a goddess who was rejected after asking for his hand in marriage) of marriage. The agreement was that once the Kanna Swami’s (first-time devotees to Sabarimala) stop coming, he would agree to finally marry her. Therefore, out of respect to the home of the deity, that is the Sabarimala temple, women capable of menstruation are instructed not to go.
If the result of a temple visit is disrespect to the deity, whose home it is, then it can be attributed to blasphemy, which is punishable by the Indian constitution. Therein lies the ‘crime’ of a female “devotee”, capable of menstruation, entering the temple- a disregard for the comfort of its deity.
And moreover, why worship a deity whose rules you refuse to follow in the first place?