What is the story/concept behind denial of fertile women (aged between 12 and 50) from entering the Sabarimala temple?

Isn't this a discrimination against women? Is it a sin to allow women into the temple? Is it against Hindu beliefs?

Also, check out this related incident ('Supreme Court questions ban on women's entry in Sabarimala temple') that happened recently.

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    You should delete the part about what the solution should be according to Hinduism, and limit it to the factual question of why women are prohibited from going. In any case, the reason for this custom is that Ayyappa is a Brahmachari, so while he was on Earth he took a vow not to associate with women who are fertile, and that custom is maintained in the temple. Commented Jan 12, 2016 at 0:03
  • @KeshavSrinivasan I agree with that,but I would like to know what would be the answer for that one too.
    – Avis
    Commented Jan 12, 2016 at 0:10
  • Yeah, but it invites too much speculation to ask what the Hindu solution to this would be. Commented Jan 12, 2016 at 0:11
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    By the way, you won't find a scriptural basis for the custom of women not being allowed, because the story of Ayyappa happened relatively recently. The story of Shiva's son Dharma Shasta, who was born when Shiva encountered Mohini, took place in ancient times, but prince Manikandan of Pandalam, commonly known as Ayyappa, was an incarnation of Dharma Shasta who lived after Muslims had already come to India. In fact, a close friend and devotee of Ayyappa was a Muslim named Vavar. Commented Jan 12, 2016 at 0:12
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    As stated above by Keshav Srinivasan We cannot find any scriptural evidence for Denial of entry to fertile women. We can ponder over why fertile women (all of them including atheists who are revolting) want entry into temple.Since a devotee cannot break rules, It is certain that people(atheist women) just want to break the rules made by ancients. If they are so eager to get darshan of Lord Ayyapa they can do it before fertility or after fertility.
    – Yogi
    Commented Jan 12, 2016 at 10:27

1 Answer 1

  1. Before visiting Shabarimala every devotee has to take up vratham (penance) for 41 days and should stay away from alcohol, smoking, non-vegetarian food and all other tamasic things including sex, cutting body hair, shaving and even trimming the nails and should not sleep on bed. They are expected to bath twice in a day and visit the local temples regularly and only wear plain black or blue colored traditional clothing during this time.

    A crude explanation is that a man who has practiced celibacy for 41 days will get distracted and loose his spiritual concentration around women devotees.

  2. As far as the myth goes,

    Another story related to Malikappurathamma goes like this: After Mahishi was killed, a beautiful lady appeared from the body of Mahishi. She requested Ayyappa to marry her and accept her as his soul mate. But due to his mission and the state as a Yogi, Ayyappa refused it. But due to the incessant beseech of the girl, the Lord gave her the word that he will definitely marry her at that time when there will be no Kanni Ayyappas in his abode at Sabarimala.

    So, it's said that a fertile woman entering the shrine will 'enrage' Malikappurathamma.

  3. Another motivation to discourage fertile women from entering the shrine is the celibacy of the presiding deity who's in the state of sitting called Arddhasana, Yogapadasana or Yogarudha Siddhasana. This status of sitting reveals the mood of asceticism, the Tapobhava.

    Since women are considered to be the source of sexual energy, a nitya brahmachari deity has put certain restrictions on female devotees.

  4. A more liberal and political correct view might be that it intended to ensure that women are not put through the difficulty of traversing the mountain under rigorous conditions and their comfort and safety too could be an area of concern on a pilgrimage like this. Women who could be bringing up a family. Remember, this was the case when there were no motorized vehicles and the forest around Shabarimala was notorious for the tigers and other wild elephants marauding humans.

It's silly to assume that Shabarimala Temple Trust is being misogynistic, because they are preventing 'sex and sensuality' from their premise and not women as kanya (before a woman becomes fertile) and post-menopause (after 60) woman are free to enter the temple and worship.


Recently I came to know that the group 'Indian Young Lawyers' Association' which filed a PIL against Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) is headed by a muslim lawyer by the name 'Naushad Ahmed Khan' who is a resident of Delhi.

There's a conspiracy theory doing rounds on social media about hidden agenda and ulterior motives behind this PIL. Some even saying that if a muslim man wants to establish gender equality he should first do away with the regressive muslim personal law which treats muslim women differently from say Hindu women.

  • @@Vineet Menon - The entire third point is very misleading. Yogapadasana or yogamudhra is their for other deities also.e.g. Yoga Narasimha in this Mudhra is very common..Even during Brahmotsavam, the utsava deity of Lord Srinivasa of Tirumala, appears in this Asana on simha vahana. All are allowed to have darshan of Yoga Narasimha and Srinivasa in the the Yogapadasana...So, I don't thing yoga Mudhra or Asana of the deity has anything to do with it. Also calling women as source of sexual energy is also misleading.
    – user808
    Commented Sep 4, 2016 at 9:11
  • @Krishna, the key point is the tavobhava, not a particular asana. Narasimha or Srinivasa are not celibate devas. Commented Sep 6, 2016 at 5:34
  • @@Vineet Menon - You are basically looking from mundane human angle and applying celibate and non celibate to even paramatma. Can there be any god more celibate than Lord Krishna? So, please do get your facts right before saying Narasimha and Srinivasa are not celibates.
    – user808
    Commented Sep 6, 2016 at 14:46
  • @Krishna, citations please. Commented Sep 7, 2016 at 4:38
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    Very nice answer! About your last point there's so much misinformation in the media today and the news is so cleverly manipulated that I wouldn't wonder if it were true! Commented Oct 3, 2018 at 15:54

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