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I’m no revolutionary, says 32-year-old Kerala teacher as she readies for Sabarimala trip

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Reshma Nishanth, who is planning a trip with her husband and daughter, claims to have received threats from Ayyappa devotees.

Bengaluru: A college teacher from Kannur in Kerala has been observing the rigorous 41-day Sabarimala penance for the past 12 years. Finally, this week, her wish will come true.

Reshma Nishanth, 32, is headed to Sabarimala, after the Supreme Court unlocked the doors of the temple to women between 10 and 50 years of age.

“I am not a revolutionary,” Reshma told ThePrint. All that she expects is equal opportunity for all to worship Lord Ayyappa.

On 28 September, a five-judge constitution bench headed by then Chief Justice Dipak Misra, said banning the entry of women into the shrine was gender discrimination and that the practice violates rights of Hindu women, sparking an immediate backlash among hardcore devotees.

The traditional vratham (vow of abstinence) that Reshma has been practicing involves wearing black clothing and the special Rudraksha beads, refraining from fish and meat, and abstaining from carnal desires.

This is a ritual that’s followed by any Sabarimala devotee — usually men — before visiting the temple.

Asked why she started this practice, Reshma said she was inspired by one of her college friends who told her about women in Kozhikode observing the Sabarimala fast, just like men do.

Reshma said, initially, she believed that menstrual cycle made her impure. “I would observe the fast for 55 days so that my prayers to the Lord were pure,” she said.

“However, in the past few years I have come to believe that menstruating is just part of my body and there is nothing wrong. So now I follow it for 41 days.”

Also read: Young women police officers don’t want to be posted at Sabarimala and offend Ayyappa

‘Death threats’

In a recent Facebook post, Reshma had announced her plans to visit Sabarimala temple carrying the special bundle called kettu nirakkal (devotees’ traveling kit containing personal belongings and items for puja). Several Ayyappa devotees and Hindu outfits, who seemed offended by her post, allegedly landed at her doorstep threatening her with dire consequences.

“They came to my house and said they will not allow me to go to Sabarimala. But I am not scared. Abusive remarks and threats have been posted on my Facebook page,” she said.

“Some posts have said they will kill me if I go to the temple. I will be going there. I have trust in the Kerala government which has assured my safety as well as my God who will guide me through,” Reshma said.

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

With the court verdict in hand, Reshma says she feels empowered enough to reach the pathinettam padi (eighteenth step) of the holy sannidhanam (sanctum).

So, now wearing the traditional black attire, Reshma hopes to visit the temple, along with her banker husband Nishanth Babu and their daughter, when it opens for the monthly rituals.

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