Friday, June 30, 2006

Swamiye Sharam Ayyappa

This post is in reponse to a post by blogger Neha Vishwanathan on the latest controversy surrounding actress Jaimala’s claims that she had entered Sabarimala temple.

Dear Neha,

I have read many of your posts and I appreciate your opinion generation efforts against gender-bias through your blog. But I think you have got it really very wrong this time. When you made statements like “Cut state funding” (this year’s revenue was Rs 62.5 Crores, last year 57.75 Crores) it became clear that your knowledge on the subject is very limited(which you have duly mentioned in the beginning of your post). In my opinion, when one is not fully aware of the subject, its custom, history and significance to the people concerned, then its better not to voice your opinion, let alone pass a judgement, more so when it’s a sensitive and personal matter like religion. When you say women should be allowed entry to Sabarimala, you are hurting the religious sentiments of devotees of Lord Ayyappa which (quite ironically) includes women too! And that exactly is why I disagree with your take on it.

Lord Ayyappa is believed to be a celibate hermit. As per the beliefs, proximity of young woman will be detrimental to the sanctity of the place. Even men who are planning to visit Sabarimala should observe a strict regime for 41 days viz. waking up early and taking breakfast only after taking bath and morning prayers, not shaving or taking hair cuts, walk bare-foot, wear only black mundu, follow strict vegetarian diet, total abstinence from sex and sexual thoughts. Here’s the complete list. These are beliefs of believers. And when I say believers, it includes woman also. I don’t remember any of the womenfolk in my family protesting against their non-entry to the temple. In fact the situation is quite contrary. Lord Ayyappa is so revered among malayalees that an average young woman considers the very thought of entering the temple blasphemous. Its not that women cannot worship Lord Ayyappa. There are numerous Ayyappa temples across the world and women are allowed in most of them. In case of Sabarimala, legend has it that Lord Ayyappa himself had ordered King Rajasekara that only those who observe vritham should be allowed to enter the holy sanctum. And as part of that, young women are not allowed in the temple premises.

When I asked my mother if she doesn’t feel like visiting Sabarimala, she said she will after she turns 50. Before that she shouldn’t and she won’t. So even though I appreciate your intention of voicing your thoughts for gender equality, I think this is a case of misplaced enthusiasm. Its not about gender discrimination, it’s a matter of faith. Various religions have their customs. To an outsider, these may seem silly, illogical. But hey, is belief in God logical? Does that stop us from believing in God? I hope you get my point. When it comes to matters of faith, I am of the firm belief that you should find peace in your own faith(it can even be aethism) and at the same time not question others faith. Questioning another person’s religion and beliefs are serious offence, in my opinion.

In case you are looking for more info on Lord Ayyappa, is a good website.

-Swamiye Sharanam Ayyappa-


Anonymous Sanjuktha Sridhar said...


I don't think she got the point. I seriously worry whether feminism as a movement is in safe hands considering that anyone who has access to the Internet can write prose without caring to do anything about it on the ground.

Neha does the movement a big disservice by continuing to write pompously without the depth required to handle such delicate subjects

6:40 AM  
Anonymous Apu said...

yeah Snajukta,
And you are one great feminist...who is not pompous at all...who has willingly accepted non-entry to places just because you are a's ok, I understand....years of slavery will not go away so soon.

6:52 AM  
Blogger neha vish said...

To make a point.

I am not questioning anyone's religious beliefs. It's important that you don't misrepresent what I have written.

I am stating that I think it's absurd that a temple that is funded (Even if it is ONE rupee) by the government discriminates on the basis of sex and age.

You are entitled to your faith. I am entitled to my rights - both as a taxpayer and as a citizen.

10:12 AM  
Blogger Happy-Go-Lucky said...


I dont think I have misrepresented you. You have raised to important points in your post.

In 1st 2 paras of your post you have mentioned that state should not patronize Sabarimala because they are a sexist institute.I have not addressed that in my post.

In the last two paras of your post you were mentioning that women should be allowed into the temple. (not because they want to, but because they have a right to)

And my post was a reponse to that. The reason women are not allowed is not due to any chauvinism or signs of male domination. Its got its own legend and I have mentioned that in my post.

2:31 PM  
Blogger Real Warrior said...

to make it little more clearer for Neha - Lord Ayyappa does not want you there, As you have your rights, he has his. So take your feminist crap elsewhere.

12:19 PM  
Blogger Manjulal said...

I totally agree to what Real Warrier has commented. As always "Little knowledge is always dangerous"

1:46 AM  

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