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Supreme court ruled on Wednesday, July 18 that women, on the basis of the fundamental right, can also enter the temple premises. CJI said that if a man who is not a priest in the temple can enter the temple premises, so can a woman too. Though the hearing is ongoing, and the final judgement will be known only in the coming days, the rulings seemed to support the fact that women, too, had equal right to pray.
Why Restrictions Only For Women
Until now, only women below ten years of age and above fifty years of age were allowed to enter the temple premises. The reason stated for this was that women between 10 to 50 years of age were falling in the menstruation age group. Menstruation, as per some beliefs in Hinduism, is an impure biological cycle.
This is why women were prohibited from doing various other day-to-day things. Some of these include entering the temple, performing pujas or other restrictions such as touching pickle. But then the restrictions were often limited to be followed when they were actually undergoing the menstruation, and had nothing to do with the fertility age group.
Beliefs existed to such an extent that the women were not allowed to touch any object or person until they had washed their hair on the first day of the periods itself. Such beliefs do exist until today as well.
Why Women Are Not Allowed In Sabarimala Temple
But in this highly popular temple of Sabarimala, the entry was not restricted merely to the days when the women were undergoing menstruation, rather the whole age group was banned for entering the temple.
It is said that Lord Ayyappan Swami, the temple deity, was a celibate, which implied that he would never marry. Celibacy is to be practised both physically as well as mentally, probably this was one reason women were restricted entry in the temple, seeing them as a distraction for the celibates.
Another Reason For Women Not Being Allowed To Enter The Temple
Related to this, there goes a story which states the reason for women not being allowed to enter the temple premises.
Ayyappa was actually born to destroy a female demon, who could be killed only by a child born upon the union of Shiva and Vishnu. So when Vishnu took the form of Mohini, the nymph, child Ayyappan was born as a result of their union. Ayyappan vowed to remain a celibate.
When he fulfilled the aim of killing the female demon, to his surprise, a beautiful woman emerged out of the body of the demon. She told him that it was a curse because of which she had been living the life of a demon and requested Ayyapan to marry her.
But he denied her request and said that the vow to remain a celibate will be honoured until and unless first-time devotees stopped coming to Sabarimala. So, the woman decided to wait until time new devotees stopped coming to the place. These new devotees are known as Kanni Swamis. The temple still witnesses hundreds of new devotees visiting Sabarimala Temple everyday.
Probably the celibacy of Lord Ayyappan was another reason for which the entry of women was restricted.