The Supreme Court will decide tomorrow on the dates for hearing a clutch of review petitions against the Court’s September 28 verdict that overturned a centuries-old tradition and allowed women between the ages of 10 and 50 to enter the Sabarimala temple.
The bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul said there are as many as 19 review petitions against the Court’s verdict in the matter and will decide tomorrow on when to hear the matter. The Court said that a fresh writ petition was mentioned today on behalf of the National Ayyappa Devotees Association which contended that the devotees were not made party to the case earlier and not heard.
Meanwhile, the SC verdict notwithstanding, not a single woman in the 10-50 age bracket was able to enter the temple in Sabarimala that opened for the annual pilgrimage season last week.
After five days of rituals, the temple will close tonight for a month long recess giving the authorities some breathing space and time to get ready for the mid-November opening after which the temple will remain open till January. So far, nine women, including two journalists and a Muslim soft porn actress have tried to reach the holy 18 steps of the temple, but were turned away by Ayyappa bhakts. On the fifth day, on Sunday, tension persisted and a handful of women were turned away by the Ayyappa devotees. Two of them were from Andhra Pradesh who police say were not aware of the controversy and had come to Sabarimala just as they visited other temples.
Meanwhile, the Kerala BJP unit on Sunday urged the state government to convene a session of the assembly and pass a resolution seeking the centre’s intervention to overcome the crisis. Party state chief Sreedharan Pillai claimed even CPI(M) members in the state were opposing the bid to break the custom of the ancient shrine, which draws lakhs of devotees from across the country, especially from southern states. Leader of Opposition in the state Assembly Ramesh Chennithala of the Congress urged the Centre to bring an ordinance to overcome the Supreme Court verdict.
Meanwhile, Rehana Fathima, the actress who had made an attempt to enter the temple on Friday, has been “expelled” from the Muslim community for “hurting the sentiments of lakhs of Hindu devotees”, the Kerala Muslim Jama’ath Council said.
In a statement, the Council said, “Her act hurt lakhs of Hindu devotees.” The body’s president, A Poonkunju, said Rehana, who had participated in “Kiss of Love” agitation, “has no right to use a Muslim name”.