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Women used to visit Sabarimala: minister
July 25, 2007 15:35 IST
Sticking to Left Democratic Front government's stand that women should be allowed to visit the Sabarimala temple, Kerala [Images] Devaswom Minister G Sudhkaran Wednesday said there were evidences to prove that women in aged between 10 and 50 had visited the temple.
"The real issue was restoration of a right once enjoyed by women. There had been evidences to prove that women had visited the temple. In 1940, the princess of Travancore Royal family had visited the temple," Sudhakaran replied to questions raised in the state assembly.
The ban on the entry of women at the hill shrine became strict following a directive of the Kerala high court in 1990 on the basis of an affidavit given by the then government in a related case, he said.
The reply sparked protests from the opposition UDF with K Sudhakaran (Cong) objecting to the minister's statements on temple issues alleging that they amounted to encroachment on faith and customs.
Minister said the basic issue was faith in the temple's presiding deity Lord Ayyappa. The government's stand was that women enjoyed as much right to offer worship as did men.
Faith and customs should be seen separately as the latter was subject to changes. In the past, priests used to take a dip in temple tank before performing poojas, whereas now they took bath in pipe water, he added.
Sudhakararan said he had "authoritative information" about instances where women of different age groups had gone to Sabarimala from Ambalappuzha in Alappuzha district in the last century.
Usually women pilgrims to Sabarimala are called "Malikappurams", he said.
He said the government has received several representations from a host of organisations supporting women's right to offer worship at Sabarimala.
There had even been a suggestion that a separate pilgrimage season for women could be considered at the hill shrine.