I am a Hindu Woman from Kerala and I don’t want to go to Sabarimala. You will find hundreds of thousands of us in Kerala and elsewhere. Highly educated, professionals, writers etc who will agree with me. Why? Because, Kerala Hindu women have Temples and festivals exclusively for themselves. Ours was a Matriarchal society where only the women inherited. We have a Temple where once a year the Preists there will wash the feet of every woman devotee who comes there because a woman is the representation of the Godess. We have a Temple in Mannarashala where the Priests are exclusively women. We have Thiruvathira, which is an exclusively women’s festival, no men allowed in the vicinity. We have Pongala, a pooja where lakhs and lakhs of women take part in Trivandrum. Since the Temple cannot hold all these vast numbers, Trivandrum literally shuts down and it’s streets are full of women. Yes exclusively women.

Contrary to that, Sabarimala is the one place in Kerala which is exclusively for men. This is where our men go together, it’s a male bonding thing. Fathers and sons, brothers,uncles, grandfathers all the male members in a family or community or friends. The whole community irrespective of caste, wealth, creed joins in, including the women. Yes, many of us keep fast with the men in our family.

These forty days are a source of great joy and peace for us. In many homes, it is the only time of the year when men don’t drink, no non-veg food, every one gets up very early in the morning around 4:00 a.m, bathe, do your pooja, visit the nearest Temple, the family gets together. It brings family members in together.

Our men don’t do this bonding by drinking, drugs or whoring. Instead it is through 40 days of detox. Every one is in it. The women as well.

There is peace in society cos many alcoholics are detoxing. There is a bond not only in the family but in the community. You go for bhajans in the evening, again the family goes together. The community gets together, very important in this day and age when everyone is working especially in Kerala.

After 40 days the men go to Sabarimala, sometimes taking their aged mothers with them and maybe the older children including gals who haven’t yet menstruated.

The women have the home to themselves, 3 days or until the men come back to do as they please.

What do they call this is modern terms?

Yes, men having their own space and women their own space and time out. Well, we have been doing this for a long time, keeping our cultural ethos and values in mind while doing so.

Author : Supria Pillai