The Supreme Court on September 29, 2018 had ruled that women of all age groups can enter Sabarimala temple in Kerala. Till then, menstruating women (from the age of 10 to 50) were not allowed to enter the Ayyappa temple.

Following the verdict, a number of women have come forward to enter the temple recently. But a larger number of people including women believers began staging protests and stopping women, saying this was a violation of their religious belief and traditional rule laid down for centuries together (at least 800 years).

According to Vedic astrologer Prakash Ammannanavar, there is a strong reason for not allowing women inside the Ayyappa temple. It is said that women are satvik (saintly).

According to tantra, during the menstrual period, women turn rajasic (with an attitude), a temperament that comes in the way of devotion. Sabarimala is a tantric tradition. The three types of human nature are classified in Hinduism as sattva (spiritual), rajasa (majestic) and tamasa (base). Lord Ayyappa is supposed to possess sankarshana shakti that is extremely powerful. And women do not have enough strength to bear the power of Ayyappa, which might even affect the womb of women.

Also read: Sabarimala: Unique tradition on brink of destruction because state has put Western blinkers on

There is another belief as well. Goddess Malikappurathamma is said to be the reason why young women are barred from entering Ayyappa’s abode in Sabarimala. According to this belief, Goddess Malikappurathamma was in love with Swamy Ayyappa and wanted to marry him. But he was not ready for the same and refused her proposal by stating that the day first-time visitors stop coming to the Ayyappa temple, he would marry her. 

There is a Malikappurathamma temple situated 100 metres away from Sabarimala temple. Devotees, who visits Sabarimala,  do pay a visit to Malikappurathamma temple too. Since Ayyappa Swamy never wished to marry, women of menstruating age are not allowed inside the temple. 

Scientifically too, since the pilgrimage is of a duration of 41 days while a woman would menstruate every 28 days, she cannot physically bear with the penance throughout the length of the journey.