India TravelTradition Vs Women Rights: Sabarimala Temple

Tradition Vs Women Rights: Sabarimala Temple


Famous Hindu Shrine, Sabarimala Sree Dharma Sastha Temple is dedicated to Lord Ayyappa, the god of growth. This temple is situated at Pathanamthitta District in the Indian State of Kerala. The temple attracts many pilgrims from Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh. Aside from India, devotees visit this temple from all over the world. But this temple has been in the limelight from some time.

This temple is surrounded by 18 hills in the Periyar National Tiger Reserve and though it is believed that you have to reach the temple through challenging treks in the forest as the vehicles cannot reach there. Apart from spirituality, many people visit this temple to witness the beauty of mother nature nearby temple.

Mesmerizing hill view of Sabarimala Temple
Mesmerizing hill view of Sabarimala Temple, Via:

The main reason behind its controversy is the ban of women of mensurating age inside the premises of Sabarimala Temple. What is the reason for this ban? What is the history associated with this temple? Why has the Supreme court given the shocking verdicts on Sabarimala? These are the question which everybody wants to know. You will get answers to all your questions in our blog. Despite the controversy, millions of devotees are coming every year.

Time of Worship

Sabarimala shrine is not opened throughout the year. Only for special occasions, the temple is opened for devotees to worship during the Mandalapooja from November to December, on the days of Makara Sankranti and Maha Vishuva Sankranti and the first five days of each Malayalam month. During the Makaravilakku festival, the temple opens only for 2 hours in the morning, between 5 AM and 7 PM.

Also Read: Explore 20 Most Popular Religious Sites In India

History of Sabarimala Temple

A lot of people know little about Sabarimala; all they know is the controversy going on. But many don’t know how the temple came into existence. Sabarimala temple has a vast history associated with it. Sabarimala is one of the five temples dedicated to Lord Ayyappan founded by Parsurama. The temple was unreachable for 3 centuries after its construction. Manikandan, the prince of the Pandalam Dynasty, discovered the original path to travel Sabarimala in the 12th century. It is believed that Prince meditated at Sabarimala temple and considered as an incarnation of Lord Ayyappa.

History of Sabarimala Temple
Throwback from past, Images of Lord Ayyappa, Via:

Lord Ayyappa, the deity of Sabarimala temple was a celibate. The statue of Lord is 1.5 feet in height and made of an alloy of five metals. It is believed that, when he killed the evil demoness Mahusasuri/ Mahishi, she turned into a beautiful woman and wanted to marry Ayyappa. But Lord Ayyappa is a celibate and wants to do meditation in the forest. He asked her to stay near his temple in Sabarimala. Lord Ayyappa meditated for several years at Sabarimala Temple.


  • If beliefs are to consider, then the devotees have to observe 41 days of celibacy before going to Sabarimala temple.
  • The pilgrims have to reach Sabarimala temple by travel through the challenging treks of the forest.
  • Devotees are required to follow a vegetarian diet strictly, abstain from alcohol, allow the hair and nails to grow without cutting and stop using absurd words.

Devotees outside Sabarimala Temple, Via:

  • Devotees have to wear blue and Black clothes, daub vibhuthi on their forehead and they can’t shave until the completion of the journey.
  • As per tradition and custom, to respect the deity Lord Ayyappa, women of a certain age were not allowed to enter into Sabarimala.

What is the Controversy?

As Lord Ayyappa was a celibate, there is a ban on women of mensurating age entering the premise of the Sabarimala temple in respect of diety. In 1990, a petition was started by S Mahandran that women were visiting the temple. Against this petition, in 1991, the Kerala High Court has given his verdict and stopped the entry of women between the age of 10 and 50 from Sabarimala temple as they were of the menstruating age.

Sabarimala Temple Controversy

Under the constitutional act of women’s rights and freedom, 27 years later, the Supreme Court has lifted the ban on September 28, 2018. Supreme Court verdict states that discrimination against women on any grounds is unconstitutional.

Understand the Sabarimala temple case in short from past years:

1. In 1990, a petition is filed in the Kerala High Court seeking a ban on the entry of women inside the Sabarimala temple.

2. In 1991, the Kerala High Court had upheld the restriction on women for entry inside the holy shrine.

3. Later in 2006, the Indian Young Lawyers Association has submitted a petition in the Supreme Court soliciting the entry of women between 10 to 50 years.

4. In 2008, the case was given to a three-judge bench for two years.

5. In April 2016, CM of Kerala Oommen Chandy asked the Supreme court to protect the rights of religious devotees at Sabarimala Temple, but later in November, the Kerala government was in favour of allowing women inside the sanctorum of the Sabarimala temple.

The protest did by an activist for women’s rights, Via:

7. Then at the end of 2017, the Supreme Court directed the case towards the Constitution bench.

8. In September 2018, a five-judge bench of the Supreme Court allowed the entry of women of all ages at the temple. However, even after the entry, a large number of followers stopped the activists and women outside the shrine.

9. In February 2019- The Apex court has reserved the order.

Recent Updates On The Controversy

This temple is opened for the three-month-long annual pilgrimage on 16 November 2019. A Padmakumar, the president of Travancore Devaswom Board on Wednesday, has stated that implementing the Supreme Court’s verdict on a batch of review petitions challenging the women’s entry of all ages in Sabarimala temple. The massive rush of devotees has seen at Sabarimala temple after the starting of the pilgrimage session. Despite the verdict!

How You Can Reach Sabarimala Temple

Trivandrum and Cochin are the nearest airports for visiting Sabarimala Temple. Devotees can also reach Calicut International Airport in Karipur. There is no direct train connecting Sabarimala to other cities. The closest railway stations are at Thiruvalla, Kottayam and Chenganur, which are around 90 km from Sabarimala. There are ample buses which drop pilgrims at Sabrimala.

Also Read: Akshardham Temple: Epitome of Spirituality & Culture at Delhi

Furthermore, travelers and devotees visiting Sabarimala can explore other temples like Vadakkumnathan Temple, Guruvayoor, Kodungalloor Devi temple, Chottanikkara Devi Temple and Vaikom Mahadevar temple. The Mosque of Vavar is also located here and the devotees visit this masjid at the time of pilgrimage.

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