Monday, December 16, 2013

Redness atop the hill:-

Come December, just as how we have people gearing up for Christmas celebrations, we have crowds of men in all earnestness, readying for their pilgrimage uphill: The Sabarimala Ayyappan Temple. Having grown up in an orthodox Iyer household myself wherein I have my uncle and his team of friends and acquaintances visiting the Sabarimala each year, I am fully aware of the austerities that one faces in order to get that one glimpse of Lord Ayyappan. I have been admittedly gifted to have had this divine experience; I was about 8 years old then. Nonetheless, what does any mortal know at that tender age unless he/she is armed with some supernatural power and has descended on earth with a jolt from the blue? Luckily, I have a vivid memory of my one and only trip to the temple atop the hill. I still recall the policeman who stood guard at the gate of Lord Ayyappa making way amidst the crowd and din just so that I could get a quick darshan of the celibate Lord! So as women, we are confined and restricted to just some memories of this divine experience. Of course I could do a retour when I turn 50 plus years, by all means! 

Albeit, a question that any common woman would want to know the answer to is: what if I want to visit this temple when I am a mature adult who has realised a sense of godliness and spirituality? Why is redness so much of a taboo? It is just a part of the metabolic and hormonal change that any woman goes through. Both as a child and adult, I have always incredulously asked my mother, “Amma don’t goddesses menstruate?!” Poor Amma, who is equally a victim of this religious prejudice, used to be appalled by my interrogation! In any case, we have the Maligapurathamman (considered as Adi Parasakthi Amman-Goddess of Shakthi) who sits right there within the same premises. Within city limits, there are other Ayyappan temples galore too that are not bound by any such dogma. God is supposed to be the same force throughout, for his presence is ubiquitous and pervasive. Then there is this reasoning of women not being able to withstand the arduous trek and brazenly walk past the dense forests. If that is true, then how is a 50 plus year old woman expected to muster all courage and physical health to set out on this hilly pilgrimage? Yet another cantankerous quibble is about women serving as a distraction to the men who have observed celibacy and are there to get a darshan of Lord Ayyappan at the end of a 40-day penance. It is unnerving to find out that when the scriptures actually extol that true spirituality springs out whilst in the midst of the maddening material milieu; we have these saffron clad MEN who are made to believe that they are stalwarts of unalloyed religious and spiritual orientation! Due respect to the men who visit the temple with absolute devotion; however we do have a flip-side too, the most common statement made is, : “Wait until I get back from the temple, for I don’t want to end up speaking foul language whilst I am in the 40-day penance!” Whatever happens to their solid austerity that was observed then? The divine sojourn is purported to rake a fillip in the individual’s life and act as a cleanser that makes the mind non-greasy. One certainly cannot be devoid of all malice for we are still mortals battling life events day in and day out. The most we could do is to try and iron out a few creases and live life, upholding some spiritual values.
End of story is to not immediately kick-start a crusading movement against the hilltop temple, what I do want to exhort is, do spare a thought!

1 comment:

  1. Had a similar thought, b'cos of the same restrictions at the Family Deity Ayyanar temple near my native