01/04/2019, 15.25
INDIA
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Hindu nun in Kerala: no god bans women from temples

The police arrested 750 people involved in recent clashes. Aswathy Rekha teaches yoga at the Ekalavya Ashram in Trivandrum. Over 100,000 devotees visit the Sabarimala temple every day. Changes in religion happen by evolution, not revolution.

Thiruvananthapuram (AsiaNews) - No Hindu sacred text "prevents women of childbearing age from entering and praying in temples. There is no reference to the impurity of the menstrual cycle. According to the gurus of Hinduism, men and women are equal,” said Aswathy Rekha, a nun in the Ekalavya Ashram in Trivandrum, Kerala.

The nun, who spoke to AsiaNews about the issue of women entering the Hindu temple in Sabarimala, which has been off-limits to women for centuries, noted that that "It has become a hot issue..

“At the beginning it was simply about gender. Now it has turned into a struggle between Hinduism and communism". The nun is referring here to Tuesday’s "human chain" of 3.5 million women supported by the CPI(M) party in Kerala, which sparked a countermove by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) getting women to light rows of lamps.

The affair took a violent turn when two women in their forties entered the temple dedicated to the god Ayyappan, who, according to Hindu mythology, is unmarried and thus cannot be "offended by the impurity of menstrual blood". The factional clashes that followed left one man dead, a Hindu nationalist, and saw police arrest 750 people.

Aswathy Rekha noted that “In antiquity there was no gender restriction. The ban imposed on women at the Sabarimala temple is due to its location, at the top of a hill difficult to reach on foot. More than 100,000 devotees come every day, and there are no facilities for such multitudes.”

Ayyappan, the god to whom the temple is dedicated, "only wanted Kanni Ayyappan, young men, to climb the 18 steps that lead to the summit and complete a votive ritual of 41 days d abstinence and vegetarian diet," the nun explained.

This led to "the ban of all women between 10 and 50 years. Women have never opposed this. The feminist movement has always been weak in Kerala.” But now, "women have begun to make their voices heard, and even nuns protested against a Catholic bishop".

Politicians have caught on and want "to destroy Hindus’ faith in Sabarimala". The “issue would never have become a problem if politicians had not intervened.”

“Most national Hindu organisations support women's entry. But local politicians sought to exploit the situation. Atheist communists want to destroy morals and oppose a Hindu electorate, which is supported instead by the BJP that here in Kerala never carried great political weight"

In the end, "women will enter the temple. But, as my guru Swamy Aswathy Thirunal says, there can be no revolution but only evolution in religion ".

For this to happen, "The masses must be educated, but nowadays there is no more time for spiritual studies; people are too busy with work and socialising".

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