5 December 2022

Blast from the Past

High Court of Kerala


S. Mahendran v. The Secretary, Travancore Devaswom Board, Thiruvananthapuram and Ors.


Saving the Brahmachari from wonting the vamp

The ban on women entering the ‘Sabarimala’ faces agitation again, but favourable or un-, lifted or not, the outcome will point to the current leanings of the moral compass, given the facts are unchanging. In 1991 the Kerala High Court, rather proactively, “direct[ed] the Travancore Devaswom Board, not to permit women above the age of 10 and below the age of 50 to trek the holy hills of Sabarimala in connection with the pilgrimage…”. Its rationale? Men are men and women are seductresses, incapable of purity in thought, word and deed, seeking only to mislead the ‘Brahmachari’. During the period of ‘Vratham’ (penance) “A pilgrim starts trekking the Sabarimala only after completing the penance for a period of 41 days. Women of the age group 10 to 50 will not be in a position to observe Vratham continuously for a period of 41 days due to physiological reasons.” The Court reiterated that the Temple’s administration had complete autonomy in the matter of deciding what rites and ceremonies were essential and no court could interfere with such a decision. Moreover, the ban on women that could actually make the pilgrimage to the temple did not distinguish on the basis of caste, creed or colour. The Supreme Court has its work cut out, battling many decades of law encircling 'religious freedom'. That, or it's going to be a mighty short judgment dismissing.


Raja Bira Kishore Deb v. State of Orissa MANU/SC/0038/1964
Ratilal Panachand Gandhi vs. The State of Bombay and Ors. MANU/SC/0138/1954
Article 25 Constitution of India Act Article 26 Constitution of India Act

Tags : Sabarimala ban women kerala

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