Hindu right wing outfits have kicked up a storm in Kerala by claiming that a woman below 50 years of age entered the Sabarimala temple along with Health Minister KK Shylaja on Saturday. The accusation came after pictures and videos of a woman clad in a yellow sari with the health minister inside the temple started doing its rounds in the social media. In one of the pictures, she can be seen applying vermilion on her forehead. Temple staffs are also spotted in the picture.
The Hindu outfits have also held the Travancore Devaswom Board responsible for "breaking the present system followed at the holy shrine".The Hindu Aikya Vedi has said that the incident is a "violation" of the existing practice of banning entry for women in the age group of 10 to 50 years to Sabarimala.
Speaking to Deccan Chronicle, Bhargavaram, Secretary of the Vedi said, "It's a clear violation of the existing law. It's true that the government favours entry of women of all age groups but a court ruling on the matter is yet to come. The government should abide by the existing law though the individual political parties will have different stands.â€ť
Meanwhile Travancore Devaswom Board authorities have said that they will be looking into the charges.
Travancore Devaswom Board A. Padmakumar said, "She is a health department official who accompanied the health minister. We'll conduct a detailed probe into the charges and give a clarification in two days,â€ť reports Deccan Chronicle.
Speaking to TNM, Hindu Aikya Vedi chief KP Sasikala said that it was on the Health Minister Shylaja and the woman in question, to clarify the circumstances under which the latter entered the temple.
"There is an existing law at the temple. Whether or not that will be subjected to change is a different thing altogether. But considering that there is a restriction on entry of women of menstruating age, the Devaswom board officials are supposed to make sure that the rules are followed. The onus is on the minister now, she has to explain what happened," she said.
Women aged 10-50 aren't allowed inside Sabarimala as the deity is 'celibate'. The Supreme Court has referred the case on women's entry in Sabarimala to a constitutional bench, which will decide if the current ban violates fundamental rights.
The Constitution bench is looking into whether women's right to equality before law guaranteed under Article 14 could be invoked to enter the shrine, in the face of the freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion guaranteed to the Devaswom board under Article 25, and their Freedom to manage religious affairs guaranteed under Article 26 of the constitution.
Actor and MLC of the Congress in Karnataka Jayamala caused a massive controversy when in 2006, she reportedly â€śconfessedâ€ť that she had visited the Sabarimala temple in 1986, at the age of 27, along with her husband actor Prabhakar. After her claims causes a furore, the case was investigated by the Kerala police and she was charged with deliberately offending religious sentiments. The Kerala High Court however, quashed the chargesheetagainst her and two others, holding that malicious intent to offend religious feelings had to be proved.