In the past few months, many words have been written about Sabarimala. Yes, the temple and its age-old rule that was shredded by a law passed by the apex court of India. The ongoing debate over the correctness of this decision is at its height. While some see it as a step towards gender equality, others see it as a blow to religious sentiments. Amidst this uproar, I have a question. The decision is taken and people are trying to get it implemented but will that have any effect on the mentality of the believers?
Without going into the debate that SC’s verdict is right or wrong, let us shed some light on Hinduism. It is one of such religion that is ever changing and adaptive. Over the years, we have seen loosened shackles of many traditions that were once considered unbreakable.
Right from stopping of discrimination of people on basis of caste in temples to the inclusion of female Pujaris, Hinduism has gone through every kind of change. However, there is one major difference between the change of these rituals and the tradition of Sabarimala. Can you guess what?
Well, for all the others it happened slowly and over a certain period. That gave the followers the space to evolve and adapt to the changes. That is not the case presently.
Sadly, I feel that the forced imposition of the verdict on Sabarimala will further harden the attitude of people. Instead of softening of firm faith, there is a high chance that their mentality will turn further rigid.
Lord Ayyappa’s vow of eternal celibacy acts as the basis of the faith for worship. This tradition has always been accepted by the devotees, including women. No, the rule of not allowing women was not because they are considered ‘unclean’.
According to the myth, Lord Ayyappa wanted to focus on his work of listening to devotees while observing celibacy. Hence, women who are within their menstrual cycle were considered a distraction by the Lord.
No, I am not saying the verdict by SC is wrong but I certainly feel that it was given in haste.
The present fiasco surrounding Lord Ayyappa seems like the start of a battle. Changing of human belief and mentality is not easy. However, with proper steps, it’s achievable.
If SC would have taken this decision in stages with the Royal family and temple committee by their side, then I think the transformation might have been much smoother.
Seeing the present situation, this radical forced change on Hindu culture will create a big dent in its adaptive nature and increase the rigidity in people’s mentality. I don’t think acceptance will come so easily in this situation. What do you think?