Weeks after the Sabarimala verdict, the issue of women’s entry into the famous Lord Ayyappa shrine is still a divisive topic in Kerala. It has culminated into an ugly clash between the religious hardliners of the state and the Leftist CPM government. Some of the harshest criticisms about the verdict, which allowed women of all age groups to enter the shrine, have come from the Malayali women, many of whom rallied behind the hooligans who attacked female worshippers who dared to enter the temple premises. Amidst all the din of fanatical voices, comes a video created by People’s Art and Literary Association (PALA), which raises some valid question about the centuries-old tradition. Why These 5 Arguments in Favour of Restricting Women’s Entry Into the Ayyappa Temple Are Baseless.
The song “They say we Pollute the Temple” is posted under the YouTube channel Vinavu, who makes videos on social issues. The singer refutes some of arguments hardliners use to justify the ban on women’s entry into the temple. The song calls out the irony in “God’s own country” (Kerala sobriquet) where women are denied entry into Sabarimala. History of Sabarimala: Why Women Weren't Allowed Into The Lord Ayyappa Shrine.
Here's The Song:
The issue of women’s safety has been always used a well-intentioned excuse to deny female devotees from entering the temple. As a counterpoint to this argument, the singer sings:
“Lord Ayyappa is a Brahmachari. He is not afraid of us.
Not doubtful of his celibacy.
The male devotees – we do not doubt their vow of celibacy either.
Sanghis, if you are threatened by our presence
You better stay at home – Do not raise a ruckus”
The song also reminds the listener of the numerous sacrifices made by women to support their menfolk during the vratham, a fact that is never acknowledged by the society. It also lays bare the hypocrisy of the tradition, where men cherry pick what rules to follow and what to flout. Swamis who have undertaken the vratham are supposed to cook their own food and wash their own clothes. But in most households, men under the vratham are still looked after by their women. Here are some hard-hitting lines from the song.
My dear husband,
Here is the story of your pilgrimage...
At 4 in the morning - I wake you up
With you - I observe all your vrathas
You come in dozens for the nithya pooja
Sing bhajans all through the night
I cook the feast - all of you eat heartily
No pollution then.
But for the temple, women are polluted.”
The song has garnered over 12k views and has received a mixed response on YouTube. The comments on the video are also quite eclectic and also (not surprisingly) includes criticisms coming from women. The issue has been a burning topic in India ever since the SC verdict and showed no signs of abating in the days to come. With such videos, gender-equality activists can hope for a modest change in attitudes of the people.