A number of Hindu outfits in Kerala have asked media houses across the country to not send any women journalists to cover the reopening of the Sabarimala temple on Monday, November 5.
These are among the same Hindu groups that also protested against the entry of women into the temple the last time it was opened—between October 17 and 22. A total of 13 women between the age 10 and 50 attempted to enter the temple and were all turned back, some even faced violence by both devotees and protestors.
Sabarimala opens for two days, 5 and 6 November for a special pooja called the Sree Chithira Thirunal Aatta Vishesham. The temple will then open again between 16 November and 27 December for the Mandala Pooja Mahotsavam, according to the temple's official website.
This appeal to not have women journalists cover the story was issued, reports the HT, by Sabarimala Karma Samiti (SKS), which is a combined platform of right-wing outfits. The Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) and the Hindu Aikyavedi, also made this statement, notes the report. This special pooja will be only the second time that the temple is open for worship after the Supreme Court order was passed, wherein the "right to pray" of women was said to be upheld.
SKS was monumental in starting and carrying out the initial agitation against women who tried to get into the temple because, they say, Lord Ayyappa is a celibate deity and that women would desecrate the sanctity of the shrine.
Women were attacked, heckled, and the roads were covered and "activists" laid siege to the foothills of the temple, notes the report.
A letter was sent out to editors of media houses from the SKS, a copy of this letter was released. It reportedly said that even the entry of women, including journalists of this age group, even if their doing their jobs is likely to "aggravate the situation".
"Recognising your right to support or oppose the devotees stand on this issue, we hope you will not take a stand which would aggravate the situation," it said.
Sabarimala will be opened on Monday evening for pooja. It will observe the birthday of the last King of Travancore, Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma, on Tuesday. The temple will close by 10 pm that day.
The whole issue, according to the SKS, all started with the Kerala government "forcibly" trying to bring young women into the temple sanctum, this practice, they reportedly said, is against traditions and customs that have been followed for many years in the Sabarimala Temple.