She saw, she came, she left: Trupti Desai returns from Sabarimala

Trupti Desai has finally decided to return from the Kochi airport after being stranded there for almost 14 hours.

The Kochi airport witnessed unbridled protest by the Ayappa devotees, leading to Trupti throwing in the towel. The lady along with seven other women, was in Kerala to visit the Sabarimala temple after it opened for Mandala pooja.

Ostensibly, Trupti had approached the Kerala government to provide her with security, even before she landed in the state. The scrupulous Kerala police informed the lady that she can be provided security only from Nilakkal, as per the Supreme court ruling, and that she will have to arrange for her own transport till the place. With taxi-drivers at the airport refusing to cooperate and devotees protesting at the airport, Trupti was left with no better option other than to return to Pune.

The Supreme court judgment that entry of women between the ages of 10-50, should be allowed at Sabarimala, has kindled a fire among Ayappa devotees to prevent the sanctity of temple from being destroyed. Age-old traditions of the temple are terra-incognita for even the staunch Hindus.

From the Irumudi-kettu (travel pouch) to 41 days of compulsory vratham (fast), devotees of Ayyappa have to follow certain traditions, very similar to the ones followed by those going on pilgrimage to Mecca or Vatican city. The temple remains open for very few days in a year, albeit it is opened for 62 continuous days, during the Mandala Pooja-Magaravilaku annual pilgrimage season.

Kerala has not seen as many attacks by foreign invaders as its northern counter-part-states, ergo traditions followed in its temples have been continued down the generations sans any vacillation. It might bemuse many that most of the temples in Kerala, requires its devotees to be attired in traditional dress; in fact, men are not allowed to wear a shirt in the inner sanctum of the temple.

Kerala, marred by the floods and poor decisions of its communist government has been in news for all the wrong reasons recently. But this state and its culture have many unique features like Kerala is the only state with a higher female to male ratio in India, according to 2011 census, there are about 1084 women for every 1000 men in the state.

A matriarchal society since time immemorial, most of the traditional families are still headed by a matriarch, a female, and marital vows require the groom to stay at bride’s house. Add to this the fact, that Kerala has many temples like Kumari Amman temple and Atukal temple, where men are debarred from entering, at times it is limited to certain occasions at the temples.  This is a state where gender equality was never an issue, it is for this reason that women in Kerala never had any problem with a “men-only” temple, Sabarimala.

Going by her tosh, one wonder’s if Trupti Desai was carrying her irumudi-kettu at all or that if she had fasted for 41 days? It is really vacuous of her, to claim herself to be Ayappa’s devotee sans any knowledge of the customs and traditions of Sabarimala temple. The pseudo-feminists trying to get entry to Sabarimala temple have forgotten the fact that the Supreme court has allowed entry to the women devotees, but it has not given permission to desecrate other traditions of the temple.

After days of struggle with devotees, the Communist government in Kerala has also softened its stance; whilst High court has asked the government to not prevent the media from covering the happenings at the temple, for the people in the state have the right to know it.

Beyond the pernicious effects of the Supreme Court ruling, the silver lining is that the temple has now gathered more devotees across India, and it has been able to illumine the intellect and unite the Hindu populace like never before.

This article was also published on OpIndia

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