Unlike other Hindu Temples.
Sabarimala is unlike other Hindu temples in India. Ayyappa, according to Hindu myths, is said to be the off-spring of Lord Vishnu (in the form of Mohini) and Lord Shiva who was born on earth and subsequently raised by King Rajasekhara of Pandalam.
The deity of Ayyappa at Sabarimala is believed to be a ‘naishtika brahmachari’ (eternal celibate), the reason behind the non-entry of women of menstrual age.
One has to fast for 41 days before going to Sabarimala. According to the traditions, Ayyappa would offer darshan only to those who would undertake a rigorous 41-day vow of abstinence from sex, meat and intoxicants.
The Supreme Court had, on September 28, overturned this centuries-old tradition in a 4-1 verdict, triggering protests by Hindu groups who refused to abide by the ruling.
The Sabarimala temple is set to open for a two-month pilgrimage, for the third time after the Supreme Court verdict. On earlier occasions, no woman has been successful in entering the shrine, amid protests by Ayyappa devotees who demand that restrictions on entry of women of menstrual age (10-50) in the temple be maintained. ( See: Sabarimala)
Meanwhile, Maharashtra based right to pray campaigner, founder-president of the Bhumata Brigade and a social activist Trupti Desai found an opportune time to seek some publicity. Citing SC verdict, she announced that she will lead a group of women to the hilltop shrine on November 17 and had approached the police for protection. Desai arrived at Cochin airport November 16 morning to trek the Sabarimala shrine on November 17.
Trupti Desai stuck at Cochin airport as protesters block exit for hours.
However, she stayed inside for several hours as protesters, assembled outside the airport, blocked her way. Desai sought protection from the state government. Thousands of protesters blocked all the exits at Kochi airport in Kerala for more than 14 hours today, stopping Trupti Desai from heading to Sabarimala temple. Trupti Desai wanted to defy a centuries-old ban on most women entering.
The protesters try to convince Desai, “Why don’t you do something more useful like prevent child marriages and fight to educate girls instead of hunting publicity like this. You are not helping women’s cause by trying to overturn centuries old tradition. Sabarimala has nothing to do with women’s liberation. Women have other much bigger problems. One has to fast and undertake a rigorous 41-day vow before going to Sabarimala. Have you gone through that ? Sabarimala is a different proposition altogether. Its not a tourist spot. This is not like a trek in the park. Some other day after you cross 50 years of age, you can have a peaceful darshan.”