Nearly two months after a counter campaign #Ready To Wait took social media by storm, with a group of Malayali women saying that they were willing to wait till the age of 50 to enter the Sabarimala shrine, the group has now moved the Supreme Court seeking to be a party to the case.
The organizers of Ready To Wait campaign, a group called 'People for Dharma' filed an application on Wednesday seeking to intervene in a bunch of petitions being heard by the apex court on women's entry to Sabarimala.
They pointed out in the petition that the unique customs rooted in Tantra Shashtra should be respected. The organization expressed their willingness to wait till the age of 50 to enter the shrine, thereby respecting the traditions of the temple and the Hindu religion. The case is expected to come up for hearing in the first week of November.
The campaign that began in August this year, was a counter campaign to a number of movements including 'Right to pray' and 'Happy to Bleed', that came down heavily on the tradition that bans the entry of menstruating women to the shrine.
The case filed by Indian Young Lawyers Association in 2006 pertains to lifting the ban on entry of women of menstruating age to the famous Ayyappa shrine Sabarimala in Kerala. The Travancore Devasom Board and the Kerala government are also a part of the case in the Supreme Court.
'People for Dharma', registered in Chennai earlier this month has more than a thousand women members.
Saying that there is no ban on entry of women but only a mere restriction in the age group, Shilpa Nair, co-founder of People for Dharma said, “It is the devotees and the stakeholders who should have a say in this regard, and not individuals or organizations who are either not devotees or are completely alien to the ways of the Hindu religion.”
It is the “overwhelming response” that Ready To Wait campaign generated on social media, that gave the organizers the confidence to form a registered organization to represent the case.
“Through the campaign, we came to know that there is immense support for our cause. We then decided to expand our campaign outside social media, since the actual fight is happening not on social media, but in the court. And that is where we need our voices to be heard, the voices of the devotees,” said Shilpa, a Dubai-based entrepreneur and devotee.
Asked whether the decision to seek intervention in the case comes in the backdrop of the Haji Ali trust conceding to SC directive to allow women’s entry, Shilpa asserts that comparing the two is “an insult to both Hindus and Muslims.”
“It is like comparing apples to pears, both the issues are completely different from each other. A comparison should not be made because it is only in the past few years that the restriction was imposed in the dargah. This is not the case with Sabarimala, there is a particular reason for the restriction of women of menstruating age to Sabarimala. Lord Ayyappa is a celibate and all we are saying is that we devotees are ready to respect that tradition,” Shilpa says.
She is however, quick to add that she is in no way against feminism.
“The thing with feminists is that they go a little overboard at times with their equality talk. I don’t think there is gender inequality in Kerala, we have a history of being a matrilineal state. Sabarimala issue is not even inequality, it is only accepting the diversity of our nation and respecting it,” she maintains.
The decision to register the organization in Chennai, Shilpa says was done purely out of convenience.
“Then again, we want to highlight this issue not as a Kerala centric matter. The devotees span across the whole of South India, including Tamil Nadu,” Shilpa said.