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N.S. Madhavan @NSMlive
, 6 tweets, 2 min read Read on Twitter
How old are ‘very old’ customs of Sabarimala? Entry of women to the shrine was banned by law only as late as 1972. Reason: some male worshippers took offence. Before that women used to go there for worship, more so, after roads were built for a Rashtrapathi visit. 1/5
The order was ineffectual. In 1986 a Tamil film was shot with actresses dancing on 18 steps. Devaswam Board charged ₹7500 for shooting rights. In a subsequent PIL, Kerala HC completely banned women 10-50 in 1990. That’s how old the prohibition is. 2/5
Justice Indu Malhotra who spoke about beliefs missed the point that a court imposed ban can be reversed by superior court.
Another ‘age-old’ custom is singing of lullaby Harivarasanam’ at 10.55 pm. This was started in 1955. Music maestro Devarajan Master set tune to it. 3/5
But in certain matters customs don’t matter. Like the Brahmin priestly family, which has a word on all temple matters, there was another family associated with the temple - a low-caste Ezhava family. It is said Ayyappa learned martial arts from them. 4/5
The family had monopoly rights over vedi vazhippadu ( gun salute homage). The TDB abruptly removed them sometime back and put the rights to public auction. See, it is not gender alone, but upper caste narratives are also on play. 5/5
(Addendum) A 1991 judgment of Kerala HC mentions about visit of Queen of Travancore to the temple in 1939. It also speaks about presence of women in choroonu ceremony. The clever priest stopped it by erecting a flagpole at the space before the deity where ceremonies took place.
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