In 2018, a verdict by the Supreme Court allowed the entry of women of all ages into the Sabarimala Temple. Prior to this verdict, the entry of women who were in the reproductive age was not permitted – a ban which was said to be placed out of respect to the celibate nature of the deity in the temple.
At that point in time, the verdict was vociferously supported by the Left Democratic Front (LDF) and the chief minister of Kerala, Pinarayi Vijayan who participated in the forming of a human chain outside the temple by at least 3-5 million women.
Following this event, in 2019, the LDF suffered a defeat in the Lok Sabha elections losing a significant number of seats.
Many accounted this defeat to the LDF’s stance regarding the entry of women at the Sabarimala Temple.
While the LDF has now adopted a cautious stance on the issue, the BJP and the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) have promised to restore the tradition of the past – banning the entry of women into the temple – if they win the election.
The Wire’s senior editor Arfa Khanum Sherwani speaks to A.N. Radhakrishnan, vice-president of BJP Kerala, and the people of Thrissur to understand how the issue resonates within Kerala today.