Rituals must change with time, some meant to be broken: Kerala CM on Sabarimala

The CM said that there is no use in criticising the government over Sabarimala, as all that they can do is follow the orders of the apex court.
Rituals must change with time, some meant to be broken: Kerala CM on Sabarimala
Rituals must change with time, some meant to be broken: Kerala CM on Sabarimala
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The CPI(M)-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) government in Kerala has come under severe criticism from devotee groups and the Congress for supporting the Supreme Court verdict on Sabarimala. But making it clear that his government's stand on the issue was unwavering, Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan declared that certain rituals and traditions needed to change with time and some are meant to be broken.

The Supreme Court verdict allowed women of all ages to enter the Sabarimala temple, which was also the LDF government’s stand. In a public meeting of the LDF held in Putharikandam Maithanam in Thiruvananthapuram on Tuesday evening, Pinarayi Vijayan clarified the government’s stand and attacked the opposition.

“It was in 1991 that the Kerala High Court came out with judgement prohibiting women aged between 10 and 50 years from entering the temple. We know that there have been instances before 1991 when women have entered the temple as part of film shoots and chooroonu rituals of their children,” the Chief Minister said.

“The Supreme Court didn’t decide to come up with the verdict, allowing women of all ages to enter Sabarimala all of a sudden,” he said.

“In 2006, the then Secretary-General of the Indian Young Lawyers Association (who was also an RSS member) filed a PIL in the Supreme Court, addressing the inequity inherent in that High Court judgement. The issue in the case became one of equality: are women and men to be treated equally?” he said.

Pinarayi Vijayan added that the LDF Government has always believed that women should get equal opportunities as men and that in 2007, when LDF was in power, it had submitted an affidavit to the SC, demanding that women should be allowed inside the temple. Later on, when the UDF was in power between 2011-2016, nothing could be done regarding the affidavit, he said.

“However, in 2016, the LDF government came to power, we expressed a desire for women to have the same rights and freedom as men, and voiced support for the petitioners from the Indian Young Lawyers Association,” the CM said.

“Over the course of the case, the government also decided to consult with religious scholars from the Devaswom Board, priests from Sabarimala and the Pandalam king in an attempt to address the matter in its religious form. All this while, UDF remained against the entry of women into the temple,” he added.  

The Chief Minister went on to say that the government was prepared to follow whatever the Supreme Court ordered.

“Even if the SC prohibited the entry of women to Sabarimala, we would have followed that, even if we were against it,” he said.

“As it has decreed that this prohibition on women from the temple is against the basic principles of the Constitution, the government is bound to follow it. Such a rigid judgement cannot be circumvented by the government. Much like the judicial reform related to sati, child marriage and women's right to property, this decision is meant to act as a safeguard to human rights.”

The CM also said that there is no use in criticising the government, as all that they can do is follow the orders of the apex court.

“Rituals and traditions should change with time. In the past, you could only enter the temple after having a bath in the pond. That is not the case now. Earlier, women did not have any right to inherit property. But is that the case now?” he asked.

Citing the examples of Sree Narayana Guru and Ayyankali, Pinarayi Vijayan said that some rituals and traditions are meant to be broken, and that the state of Kerala is what it is today by breaking many rituals.

Hitting out at opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala and the Congress, Pinarayi Vijayan said that the action of the Congress party to join the RSS protests against the LDF government can cause serious damage to their own party. “The aim of BJP-RSS is to destroy the secular framework of the state. The Congress should not be an ally to this,” said the CM.

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