An open letter to Sabarimala petitioner Naushad Ahmed Khan – True Indian Woman

Women yatris to Sabarimala

Swedish women pilgrims to SabarimalaA lawyer who is fighting for the right of women to enter the famous Sabarimala Ayyappa Temple in Kerala has told the Supreme Court that he has received hundreds of death threats warning him to drop the petition, making him seek police protection.

Naushad Ahmed Khan, President of the Indian Young Lawyers Association, is one of the two lawyers who had filed a plea in the Supreme Court against women been barred from entering the temple.

Here is an open letter written by a professional women from Kerala slamming all these double standards people, who cannot work on women’s equality in their own religion but poke their nose into other religions. It was first published by Mission Bengal on 30 January 2016.

Here is her letter —

Mr Naushad Ahmad Khan, have you travelled in an air plane? There while giving security instructions, they say, fix your own safety mask first before helping others. I request you to fix women rights problem in your own religion first before helping other religions.

I am a Hindu woman from Kerala and I don’t want to go to Sabarimala. You will find hundreds of thousands of us in Kerala and elsewhere. Highly educated professionals, writers, etc. who will agree with me. Why? Because, Kerala Hindu women have temples and festivals exclusively for themselves. Ours was a matriarchal society where only the women inherited.

We have a temple where once a year the priests there will wash the feet of every woman devotee who comes there because a woman is the representation of the Goddess. We have a temple in Mannarashala where the priests are exclusively women, We have Thiruvathira, which is an exclusively women’s festival and no men allowed in the vicinity. We have Pongala a pooja where lakhs and lakhs of women take part in it at Tiruvananthapuram. Since the temple cannot hold all these vast numbers, Trivandrum literally shuts down and it’s streets are full of women. Yes, exclusively women.

Contrary to that, Sabarimala is the one place in Kerala which is exclusively for men. This is where our men go together. It’s a male bonding thing like fathers and sons, brothers, uncles, grandfathers, all the male members in a family or community or friends. The whole community irrespective of caste, wealth, creed joins in including the women. Yes, many of us keep fast with the men in our family. Also women of young age and older ones above 60 are allowed inside Sabarimala, which is never shown by media. This is done because Lord Ayyappa was a brahmachari, which, pseudo secular morons fail to understand.

These forty days are a source of great joy and peace for us. In many homes, it is the only time of the year when men don’t drink, no non-veg food, every one gets up very early in the morning around 4:00 am, bathe, do their pooja, visit the nearest temple, the family gets together and it brings family members in together.

Our men don’t do this bonding by drinking, drugs or whoring, Instead it is through 40 days of detox. Every one is in it. The women as well.

There is peace in society because many alcoholics are detoxing. There is a bond not only in the family but in the community. You go for bhajans in the evening. Again the family goes together. The community gets together, very important in this day and age when everyone is working especially in Kerala.

After 40 days the men go to Sabarimala, sometimes taking their aged mothers with them and maybe the older children including girls who haven’t yet menstruated.

The women have the home to themselves. Three days or until the men come back to do as they please. What do they call this is modern terms? Yes, men having their own space and women their own space and time out. Well, we have been doing this for a long time—keeping our cultural ethos and values in mind while doing so.

So request all the pseudo secular people, media and peaceful minority to mind their own business and work on women equality in their society, which is indeed in a shameful state. Please mind your own business and let us do the same.

A True Indian Woman

Women yatris returning from Sabarimala

4 Responses

  1. Sabarimala Verdict: The reality – Manoj Kumar Sonthalia – The New Indian Express – Chennai – 30 September 2018

    Religion can clash with law, faith need not. It is natural for an old civilisation like India to have old practices revered by the faithful. Justice is best when it recognises that there is no offence in the logic of the faithful being at variance with the logic of the rationalist. In the case of the Sabarimala deity, the faithful have strong arguments in their favour. By choosing not to accept these, the Supreme Court trod a path it need not have. As irony would have it, devotees have already rejected the judgment allowing unrestricted entry of women to the holy steps. Ground level reports suggest that women devotees, as distinct from women activists, will not trek to the hilltop because they believe it would destroy the raison d’etre of the celibate Lord and the rituals thereof.

    That article of faith is the crux of the matter. The debate was wrongly pegged on the taboo attached to menstruality of women. That, of course, needs to be thrown out. The issue before the court was related to Ayyappa’s celibacy. The Sabarimala Ayyappa is a Naishtika Brahmachari practising the severest form of celibacy. In that state, he is restricted from being in the presence of women. There are other Ayyappa temples where he is not in the Brahmachari form and there are no restrictions on women in those temples. The restrictions in Sabarimala are more on Ayyappa than on women and they are self-imposed because he does not want his penance to be disturbed. Those below 10 years are children and those above 50 are motherly, hence the age limitations; they have nothing to do with womanly periods. The majority view as enunciated by Justice Chandrachud got it wrong when it linked the exclusion of women with the menstrual status and called it a form of untouchability. What the court also failed to recognise is that it is not a general exclusion; it is specific to Sabarimala and unrelated to periods.

    Of course, these are matters of faith and modernists are within their right to dismiss them as mumbo jumbo. But it would be an invitation to constitutional complications if the judiciary were to dismiss matters of faith in response to the sentiments of rights activists. Nor can it ignore the counter argument raised by the dissenting judge that “judicial review of religious practices…. would negate the freedom to practice one’s religion according to one’s faith and beliefs”. It is unfortunate that the Supreme Court ignored the importance of faith in a 5,000-year-old society and delivered a judgment that toppled a revered tradition based on the very concept of the deity concerned. This issue was not about morality, equal rights or emancipation but about a traditional ritual that wasn’t harmful to society as such. Therefore, it should not be mixed up with repressive practices such as Sati and widow abandonment. Those were social evils which needed to be abolished. Sabarimala is a nuanced story about a God, with freedom to follow or not follow. Why demolish a ritual based on belief?

    There is a danger that this judgment may be the beginning of a new age of faith-denouncing and faith-asserting litigations. Justice Indu Malhotra herself noted that if courts begin to get into an area that is best avoided, they will surely open the floodgates for every belief of every religion to be questioned even by non-believers. Are the courts prepared for such an avalanche? Is the nation? It will be a precarious path that could impact the social order itself. If and when a review petition comes up, the honourable court will have a chance to take these possibilities also into account. India is different from modern democracies of the West. Our society is different. We ignore such realities at our peril.

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  2. Like

  3. Sad that the only time that men don’t drink and misbehave is during the Sabarimala vrtam!

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  4. why doesn’t somebody tell the Hon SC that this person has no business to be a petitioner in the case. His religion is different, what is the reason that he is trying to poke his nose into others’ affairs.

    SC should throw him out with exemplary costs

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