Orthodox Hindus are against women entering the shrine because Lord Ayyappa is a celibate god.
For actor-turned-politician Jayamala, September 28 will always be a red-letter day. After all, it is when the Supreme Court lifted the ban on women entering the Sabarimala shrine — fulfilling a dream she has always held close to her heart.
Ms Jayamala, now the Minister of Women and Child Welfare in the Karnataka Government, is no stranger to the controversial rules that have governed the shrine. In 2006, the former actor announced that she had entered the shrine along with her husband way back in 1986 in violation of its rules. This angered orthodox devotees who believe that women who have crossed puberty should not be allowed into the shrine.
The Kerala Government formed a team to investigate the issue, and she was taken to court on charges of hurting religious sentiments.
But that’s water under the bridge, now that a five-judge constitution bench of the Supreme Court has lifted the ban on the grounds of discrimination. “I feel very happy now. It is a historic judgment, and I am thankful to our constitution,” Ms Jayamala told NDTV in Bengaluru.
The Karnataka Minister termed worship as a “personal matter” that should not be subject to regressive rules. “Women will feel so happy to see a powerful god like Sabarimala Swamy… Why do they speak like this m? I knew this decision would come. No matter what anybody says, only the law can give us justice. I only asked god one thing — give intelligence to those who speak otherwise,” she said.
Ms Jayamala is a first-time cabinet member in the Karnataka coalition government, having come in as a member of the legislative council. She won a National Award for her performance in Girish Kasaravalli’s Thayi Sahiba in 1997.
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