Trupti Desai, an Indian gender equality activist and the founder of the Bhumata Brigade, a Mumbai based social activist organization, is in the news for her statement that she will enter the Sabarimala temple, Kerala, India which does not allow visits of young women of specified age group in January, 2017. She and her brigade have campaigned to get entry for women to religious places like the Shani Shingnapur Temple, the Mahalakshmi Temple and the Trimbakeshwar Shiva Temple, all in Maharashtra, India and she wish to continue her activities in the most visited place of worship in the state, creating unrest among devotees and local communities.
Sabarimala is a Hindu pilgrimage centre located at the Periyar Tiger Reserve in the Western Ghat mountain ranges of Pathanamthitta District, Kerala. It is one of the largest annual pilgrimages in the world, with an estimated over 100 million devotees visiting every year. Ayyappan’s temple is situated amidst 18 hills. The temple is situated on a hilltop at an altitude of 1260 m (4,133 ft) above main sea level, and is surrounded by mountains and dense forests. The dense forest, (Periyar Tiger Reserve), around the temple is known as poongavanam and is considered auspicious by devotees.
The shrine at Sabarimala is an ancient temple of Ayyappan also known as Sasta and Dharmasasta. It is believed that in the 12th century, Manikandan, a prince of Pandalam dynasty, performed strict spiritual practices at Sabarimala temple and became one with the divine. Unmarried and completely withdrawn from worldly life, he was leading the life of an ascetic. On request of the King of Pandalam, he allowed spiritual seekers to come to visit him and also explained how the Sabarimala pilgrimage shall be undertaken, emphasizing the importance of an ascetic way of life. Traditionally, asceticism is considered to be a male domain and a very few women endeavored the hardships of such a demanding lifestyle. Naturally, the pilgrimage to Sabarimala became exclusive for men who could undertake such rigorous penance. Read more