Women’s entry into the Sabarimala temple has been a subject of controversy in Kerala for many years, and the new Travancore Devaswom Board President has landed himself in trouble over the same issue.
While speaking to the media at the Kollam Press Club on Friday, Prayar Gopalakrishnan, who took charge as Devaswom Board President two days ago, said that women will be permitted to Sabarimala after the invention of a machine which can scan and judge the purity of women. This was in response to a question about women's entry into the temple.
"A time will come when people will ask if all women should be disallowed from entering the temple thourghout the year. These days there are machines that can scan bodies and check for weapons. There will be a day when a machine is invented to scan if it is the 'right time' (not menstruating) for a woman to enter the temple. When that machine is invented, we will talk about letting women inside."
Sudha Ramalingam, senior lawyer and social activist condemned the Devaswom chief's statement. "I can't comprehend this. How can a machine determine the purity of women and what is the standard? How can a machine judge the purity of women? How scientific is it?" Sudha Ramalingam asked
"It seems to be ridiculous. I am against the view that menstruating women are impure. People must first understand what woman and womanhood is and must talk with sensitivity," she added.
Gopalakrishnan also urged to tighten the security in the temple to obstruct the entry of women.
"He was not trying to insult women. Not allowing women and girls post puberty is a traditional custom followed by Sabarimala temple and it has been upheld by the High Court and Supreme Court. It is not discrimination, this is differentiation. In Attukal temple only women make pongala, men are not allowed, same way every temple has its own tradition. And Sabarimala temple does not discriminate against women. There is a woman goddess' shrine there in Sabarimala," said Rahul Eashwar, social activist and member of the Sabarimala tantri family.
During the press meet, the Devaswom chief also denied the allegations that RSS units are working inside the temple campuses which comes under Travancore Devaswom Board. There were also reports that some temple campuses are used to store arms of some Hindu extremist groups.
Gopalakrishnan also announced that Devaswom will strive hard for the unity of all Hindu castes and form a united Hindu group.
Gopalakrishnan has been criticized for his comments being an insult to women.