JOST A MON

The idle ramblings of a Jack of some trades, Master of none

Feb 25, 2008

Women at Sabarimala

"All pilgrims are required to observe a strict penance of 41 days called vrath, during which they have to abstain from non-vegetarian food, liquor and sex. Women of menstrual age cannot observe this penance, says C. Vijayakumar of the Ayyappa Sewa Sangham. It is believed that Lord Ayyappa of Sabarimala is a brahmachari god and hence, does not wish to be distracted by the presence of young women." [India Today, 25 Feb 2008]

I'm not sure exactly what Mr Vijayakumar of the Ayyappa Sewa Sangham intends to say. Does he mean that women must not observe the penance? Or that they don't want to? Or that, simply, they are flesh-gorging nymphomaniac alcoholics, and therefore unable to abstain from meat, liquor and sex for 41 days?

Interesting...

5 comments:

Shefaly said...

Or simply that the so-called brahmacharyya of a so-called Brahmachari God is so weak that the sight of a woman, who demonstrably can bear a child - potentially his child - breaks it.

Fëanor said...

Too true, too true. Among virgin Gods, anything that evoked horniness in them would be taboo. After all, it's always the woman's fault that the male gets aroused! Now had it been Ayyappan's father's temple, I guess everyone would have been welcome.

rajesh said...

I am a Sabarimala vetran... i have clambered up to divinity 13 times...
In the first phase - 8 times in the early 80's as a teenager with Dad and Oxon Ravi Menon.. once with Manoj as well when i must have been 15 and he 13. second phase- i restarted in 2002 and have gone up 5 times with 30 day vrithams... during the first phase the abstenence from alcohol and sex was easy... (no one would give me either..) but giving up meat was a total bummer... strangely it seems to be the same during the second phase...ha!

With regard to the history of the 41 day vrath... before the fancy roads came up that takes you right up to the river pampa at the foothill of the sacred mountain the footpath started from afar and it took over 30 days of treaking to reach the temple... it was too tough for women... and being surrounded by men who have given up sex for 41 days could have been initimidating... even ugly women stood a chance to be ravished... and if they were of menstrual age then they would get pregnant...

But most of all in my personal opinion... not wanting to sound chauvanist... the no ladies rule has been a tradition for over 300 years... and is unique to this temple... so why not let it be? i find that most of the women who redicule this rule ..do it for empowering women and not because of their faith... or love for Ayappan.... we hindus have 100's of Gods and different avatars of Vishnu... so if a mensturating woman wants to pray to vishnu ...why not the numerous temples all over india which has no restrictions to the entry of women? why this one?

Personally i dont care if women come up sabarimala... but i dont recommend it... its tough, dirty, sweaty and smelly... getting a darshan in the narrow gap/path in front of the diety ends up in a scuffle with smelly sweaty bodies all pressed against eachother and the human mass of sweat moves by itself past the diety... if i was a mensturating woman i am sure i would have got pregnent by the time i finished the darshan... then the next demand... a seperate ladies Q ...
This has been a tradition... let it be...

Fëanor said...

rajesh: thanks for the note and reminiscences. i see you have some good memories of perspiration and inspiration! but i'm afraid i disagree with your traditionalist argument, which can be used to support any number of iniquitous behaviours. if you grant that women and men, with all their attributes, are created by God, then it makes no sense to declare women impure and unworthy of seeking that God whenever or wherever they feel like it. this is hypocrisy of divine proportions.

rajesh said...

in response to your comment .."then it makes no sense to declare women impure and unworthy of seeking that God whenever or wherever they feel like it."
murali bhai...You are extremely well read and knowledgeble on subjects that i cannot even pronounce but i am sure you will agree that Most traditions that have arrived into the 21st century have a history in the past that where one learned man tried to save the other ignorant ones by saying 'dont do that as God will punish you' the fear of Gods punishment ensured that muslims stayed away from dirty pigs and therefore encaphlitis... and so it is even today... the reason ladies were not allowed then could be because of the tough terrain, tigers (the entire walk is through the Periar Tiger reserve)and disease... the wise men of yore therefore cooked up the story of ayyapan not wanting to be seduced... thereby saving many families the tragedy of men and women from the same family taking the trip and not returning... but we have moron priests who make rediculous statements like what you reproduced in your blog... the main reason in my opinion is the hardship involved and not purity...

today atleast 20% of the devotees going up during off seasion are women... little girls and women above 50... and i feel sorry for them when they get crushed trying to glimpse the little idol... going up is tough but for 500Rs.you can get carried up on a palanquin... tradition says that you have to walk up barefoot... i go up with adidas trainers... tradition says we have to carry our holy 'kettu' on our heads... we hand it over to a porter who gives it us on top... last year i exchanged my black mundu for a pair of black running shorts.. am i a hypocrit for doing a 30 day vrith and then going up kitted out like i am going to a gym?... i go up driven by faith to meet god through a little gold clad idol sitting atop a mountain.. now how i go up or what i wear is nobody's business... can a pretty 26 year old walk up with me? why not? but only if she truly wants to come up and be one with ayappan and not just to prove a point...
Murali bhai... this is nothing.. my cousins brother in law whose mother is christian had his sons rice eating ceremony at Guruvayoor... when the news came out.. (minister Vyalar Ravi's son Unni's son's choru unnu)the priests closed the temple and did a ceremonial cleansing of the temple... this pisses me off .... and tell me why cant i wear a shirt in Padmanabhaswamy temple... why should i go bare chested? give me a good reason... tradition?... if these traditions are allowed to go on why not others??

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