- Don't interfere in religious matters: Ex-temple board head
- Women can now enter Sabarimala temple, says Supreme Court
- Ex-temple board head says he won't allow his daughters at temple
As the Supreme Court today ended a centuries-old restriction on women entering Kerala's renowned Sabarimala temple, its former head declared that his family would not follow the order. A five-judge Supreme Court bench said denying entry to women only because they are menstruating violates the constitutional right to equality and is "almost like untouchability".
"I am unhappy... A constitutional authority cannot interfere in religious matters," said Prayar Gopalakrishnan, a former chief of the Travancore Devaswom Board that controls the Sabarimala temple. He was controversial for saying once that women could be allowed only when a machine was invented to scan if it is the "right time" -- meaning, they are not menstruating.
Mr Gopalakrishnan said his family, mainly his daughters, would not enter the shrine, come what may. Asked whether it was their decision, he replied: "They are my daughters, it is my decision. I think my daughter's decision must be my decision."
Not if they were above 18. Were they of age, NDTV asked. There was a telling pause and some stuttering.
For centuries, the temple has refused to allow women between 10 and 50 years because the presiding deity, Lord Ayyappa, is seen as celibate.
"If it is essential, we will think about it (a scanner)," Mr Gopalakrishnan said, defiant even after the Supreme Court order.
"I am a devotee of Ayyappa. Even if we have the right to submit a review petition, other Hindu organisations will discuss and decide. We will build an organised system to go for a review of the Supreme Court order."
The shrine is shut at present. Asked by NDTV when women could start entering it, Mr Gopalakrishnan remarked: "When women are allowed, there must be a 41-day penance fast. Only believers must go to Sabarimala."