A couple of years ago, the LDF government had made a controversial move to allow women of all ages at Sabarimala Ayyappa temple, which backfired. Now, the government has decided to withdraw a police guideline stating that women below 50 years of age won’t be allowed darshan in the ongoing Mandala-Makaravilakku season at the Sabarimala temple.
The guideline clearly stated that women below 50 years are barred from entering the temple. The Kerala police issued it for the second set of the virtual queue booking system for visiting the hill temple. Immediately, the guideline was removed after getting media and public attention.
Reportedly, the particular guideline was removed following criticism from a section of ministers and CPM leaders. The original guideline is replaced with one stating that devotees between the age group of 60 and 65 should carry a medical certificate while heading to Sabarimala temple for darshan.
It needs to be highlighted that the guideline issued during the first round of virtual queue booking, which began ahead of the season, did not mention any restriction on women’s entry. However, the review plea against the Supreme Court’s judgment permitting women of all ages at the temple is still pending before the top court.
The LDF government’s rigid stance on temple entry drew flak from various sections of the society. Experts believe that this resulted in the defeat that the LDF had suffered in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. However, without much delay, the government realised their error and corrected it. They suddenly took a U-turn claiming to preserve law and order.
The CPM’s top decision-making body decided to follow the judgment of the SC’s five-member bench, which restricted the government from giving security to young women going to the hill shrine. However, then Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran said, “If any woman wants police protection to trek to Sabarimala, she will have to produce a court order for that.”
This was not the end of mixing faith and politics in this matter. Later, the Kerala government organised a ‘Vanitha Mathil’ (women’s wall) from Kasargod to Thiruvananthapuram. The LDF-led government’s 600-km-long women chain claimed to create awareness about the government’s stand on Sabarimala and counter the Sangh Parivar’s protests against women’s temple entry.