NEW DELHI — As the Congress-led UDF in Kerala ramps up opposition to women’s entry in Sabarimala, the grand old party seems to have forgotten Jayamala — Kannada actor, Congress member, and Karnataka’s minister for women and child welfare.
In 2006, Jayamala said she had visited the shrine with her husband in 1986, when she was 27 years old. She said she had touched the idol of the presiding deity, claiming that she was pushed into the sanctum sanctorum by a surging crowd.
When the Supreme Court delivered it verdict allowing women of all ages entry into the temple in 2018, Jayamala had called it “a big win for humanity”.
“I am thinking of going to the temple now that women are allowed,” she had told The NewsMinute.
Meanwhile, several Congressmen have chosen to back patriarchy over “humanity”, vividly illustrating the party’s confusion on how to simultaneously stand up for liberal values without alienating conservatives in an election year.
When Jayamala first revealed that she had entered Sabarimala, a case registered against her for violating temple traditions and offending religious sentiments, only to be quashed by the Kerala High Court in 2012. The court called the charges “legally invalid”.
The minister told Deccan Chronicle she had visited the temple when she was going through a “rough phase and wanted to seek Lord Ayyappa’s blessing”.
Jayamala’s case played a part in the petition filed in the Supreme Court in 2006 against the ban on women. Bhakti Pasrija, general secretary of the Indian Young Lawyers’ Association, which filed the petition told HuffPost India that she was appalled by a news item that claimed Sabarimala priests ‘purified’ the temple after the actress’s revelation.
On Wednesday, Kanakadurga and Bindu made history as the first women to worship at the temple since the Supreme Court verdict.
Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala, the leader of the opposition in Kerala, reacted sharply to the news and said the incident had “hurt” the sentiments of devotees.
“This conspiracy has been undertaken with the intention of hurting and insulting all religious people in Kerala,” Chennithala told reporters.
The Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) is observing a black day in the state on Thursday.
In an interview to NDTV after the SC verdict, Jayamala had called worship a “personal matter”. “Women will feel so happy to see a powerful god like Sabarimala Swamy... Why do they speak like this? I knew this decision would come. No matter what anybody says, only the law can give us justice. I only asked god one thing ― give intelligence to those who speak otherwise,” she said.