The Supreme Court today agreed to review in open court its own order ending Sabarimala temple’s ban on women of menstrual age. The court will hear 49 petitions challenging the ruling on January 22.
In September, the court had ruled that women of all ages must be allowed in the renowned temple, ending a ban that prevented women and girls between 10 and 50 years from entering the shrine to celibate Lord Ayyappa.
“Restrictions can’t be treated as essential religious practice,” the top court had said in a majority four-one judgement, calling the custom “almost like untouchability”.
Since that order, however, no woman below 50 has made it to the shrine because of massive protests by devotees who have defied the Supreme Court.
The temple remains open only for 127 days in a year and can be accessed through a forest.
The Travancore Devaswom Board, which runs the over 800-year-old Lord Ayyappa temple, had told the court that the ban was not anti-women and is voluntarily accepted by them. The board had also urged the top court to steer clear of sitting in judgment on sensitive religious matters.