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Photos of young women in Sabarimala circulate on social media, Kerala govt orders probe

The Kerala government has ordered an inquiry into photographs circulating on social media, purportedly showing some women in the Sabarimala Lord Ayyappa Temple despite a ban on their entry.

india Updated: Apr 17, 2017 20:57 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Thiruvananthapuram
Sabarimala temple,Lord Ayyappa,Women in Sabarimala
There are restrictions on the entry of women between 10- 50 years of age in the hillock shrine.(AP Photo)

The Kerala government on Monday ordered a probe after photographs of young women offering prayers at Sabarimala temple, where women of procreative age are barred, surfaced on social media.

Kadakampally Surendran, state temple affairs minister, directed the Devasom vigilance department to examine the veracity of the photographs.

“Though the government is in favour of allowing women of all ages at the temple, it is committed to upholding the prevailing customs till changes are being made,” he said.

The minister said he received a complaint that some women accompanied a Kollam-based businessman to the temple when he went there to make arrangements for the impending visit of certain VIPs. It is not immediately known whether these photos belong to the same group.

The second largest pilgrimage after Mecca, the Sabarimala temple is dedicated to Lord Ayyappa, the son of Lord Vishnu and Siva.

Women of reproductive age (10-50 years) are barred in the temple, citing the reason that the idol concept is ‘naishtika brahmacharya’ (eternal celibate).

The temple came into the limelight last year after the Bombay high court lifted restrictions imposed on women at the Haji Ali Dargah in Mumbai.

A petition challenging the temple customs is before the Supreme Court now.

Last year, a battle between “can wait and why wait” groups raged on social media.

Many devotees posted their photographs with a placard displaying ‘they are ready to wait’ with a hashtag, with many women extending their support to the campaign. They said they were hurt by what they called a smear campaign by a section of atheists and non-believers against the temple.

Not to be left behind, persons opposing the status quo hit back, saying they didn’t know the “value of freedom and equality”.

First Published: Apr 17, 2017 14:35 IST