A large number of devotees of Swami Ayyappa, including women, took out a march in the city on Wednesday, under the banner of Sri Sabari Ayyappa Trust, demanding that the age-old-long tradition followed in the Swami Ayyappa temple in Sabarimala should continue to prevail.
The march, that began from the Sabari Ayyappa temple in Raghavendra Colony, passed through the main streets of the city before culminating at the Deputy Commissioner’s office where a memorandum was submitted.
Jayaprakash Gupta, president of the trust, observed that the recent Supreme Court judgment allowing women in the 10-50 age group to worship in the temple will definitely disturb the tradition and customs prevailing at Sabarimala.
According to him, as per the custom being followed, devotees should observe a strict vratham for a mandal (a period extending to a minimum 41 days) before visiting Sabarimala.
“Probably, women can’t afford to observe the vratham for a mandal on account of their monthly ruthuchakra (menstrual cycle). Secondly, Lord Ayyappa is a bachelor (Brahamachari). We feel that the prevailing system must have come into being on account of these reasons,” he said.
Gupta made it clear that the march was not at all to perpetuate any gender discrimination as all Ayyappa devotees have respect for women and accept that women are superior in many respects. “This march is entirely aimed at requesting the Supreme Court to reconsider its decision while disposing of the review petitions coming up for hearing on November 13, keeping in view the traditions and customs that have prevailed over centuries at Sabarimala,” he said.