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Mother of teen says plea to reinstate Sabarimala bar on women offensive to Lord Ayyappa

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The mother has moved the top court, saying the petitioners’ argument — that a 10-year-old’s presence will affect the celibacy of Lord Ayyappa — was offensive.

New Delhi: Days before the pilgrimage to the famed Sabarimala temple begins, a Lord Ayyappa devotee is seeking to thwart a plea that wants the shrine’s ban on women aged 10-50 reinstated.

An age-old bar that kept women of the age group outside the sanctum sanctorum of the temple was scrapped by the Supreme Court last month, following which an organisation named the Nair Service Society (NSS) filed a review petition in the court.

In an application filed in the top court, T.S. Sindhu, the mother of a 14-year-old girl, has objected to the arguments made by the NSS in its review plea, calling them explicitly inappropriate. She adds that the arguments defame Lord Ayyappa.

In its review plea, the NSS had said, “As the deity is a Naishtika Brahmachari, only females before the age of 10 and after the age of 50 years are eligible to worship him.”

Also read: With Sabarimala ruling, Supreme Court is doing its bit to push back patriarchy

Sindhu has argued in her application that the “irrefutable inference” made from the society’s contentions is that females between the ages of 10 and 50 are not allowed before a Naishtika Brahmachari .

“The Brahmacharya is a penance or a vow taken to abstain from sexual acts and sexual desires,” she stated.

“The contention that a 10-year-old girl’s presence will affect the celibacy of Lord Ayyappa is a derogatory and offensive remark not only against Lord Ayyappa but more so on children of such a tender age,” she added.

“The reviewer ought to have seen that, at age 10, children are innocent,” she said, adding, “Such an argument is outrageous and grossly misogynist and thwarts the dignity of children and women on the very face of it… It is needless to state that such contentions are per se derogatory against the entire womenfolk as they are perceived to be lascivious.”

“It is respectfully submitted that the so-called tradition of classifying this age group of 10 to 50 as unfit for entry to a place of celibacy is an outright indication that such children and women are only objects for sexual gratification and hence they are not ‘moral’ in a sacred space,” Sidhu said. “The exclusionary practice and insistence on the same… is against all tenets of Hinduism.”

Also read: Sabarimala temple ruling distances courts from Indians steeped in tradition

Filed by advocate P.V. Dinesh, the plea for intervention suggested that the NSS’ remarks were “reckless”. “Millions of Ayyappa devotees are deeply saddened by such aspersions spread in the name of Lord Ayappa,” the plea reads.

By a 4:1 majority, a Constitution bench of the Supreme Court ruled on 28 September that women of all ages could enter the sanctum sanctorum of the Sabarimala Temple in Kerala.

The court observed that barring the entry of women aged between 10 and 50 years, or when they are in the menstruation age, into the temple was not an essential part of the religion.

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