Well-known Kannada author SL Bhyrappa inaugurated the Dasara festival in Mysuru on Sunday, 29th September. In his inaugural speech, he made a statement about women’s entry into the Sabarimala temple.
The writer took serious objection to both the court and the Kerala government’s stand over the issue of women’s entry into the Lord Ayyappa temple in Sabarimala.
“It is not a question of gender equality but of one’s beliefs. Now, we are celebrating Goddess Chamundeshwari’s triumph over the evil and killing of demon king Mahishasura. Can people go to the court alleging discrimination against men?” asked Bhyrappa adding that law cannot establish gender equality as the cultural nuances and reality of the country were different.
Bhyrappa’s statements have drawn sharp criticism from prominent writers and women activists especially his statements where he supports the ban on temple entry of women of menstruating age.
“Well known writer S.L. Bhyrappa in his statement has opposed women’s entry into Hindu temples during menstruating age. This is an insult to all women and mothers,” said Akhila Vidyasandra, Advocate and Socio-Legal Activist, Karnataka.
Preethi Nagaraj, a senior journalist based in Bangalore, had taken to social media to counter Bhyrappa’s statement, “Uterus is where women store the menstrual blood. Poor cursed men, they carry it (always) in their heads.”
Kadambini Ravi, a prominent writer, said the basic principle of being a writer is to treat all human beings equally. “But Prof. Bhyrappa has never treated women as human beings.” This was not befitting a civilized person, she said.
Bhyrappa also said that gender discrimination was not Indian “culture” but a temporary aberration brought in by invasions. According to him Women always have had a high status in Indian society where we worship female deities “more”. But suddenly we get to hear that women are not respected in our society. Women remained withdrawn or sidelined owing to invasion and assault. But today, we see more girls than boys pursuing higher education. Our society is always open to change,” said Bhyrappa.
Social media was abuzz where netizens were not too happy with his regressive statements.
Srinivas Karkala says- “We carry many things in our body. Feces in the gut, Urine is present in the bladder. You can go to the temple with that. But only females experiencing menstruation should not enter the temple.”
We used to think that literary people have more sensititvity and with age, wisdom comes! it is our mistake to think like that!
A rapist can enter the temple. The thug, the thief, the corrupt, the crafty, the gangster can enter the temple. Only females who have given life to the world should not enter the temple because of menstruation !.
“If work is worship, then why should we go to the office when we are menstruating? Give us 3 days off a month in your name please,” said Chaitra Kotur.
“The whole world was born because of menstruation. Where did this sarvagya come from if not uterus? How was he born that he says not to touch menstruating women?” wrote Leela K Gulbarga.
“The person who calls menstruation impure suffers from a mental illness. Does he not remember the women of his own household?” asked Mahalingappa Alabala.
In his inaugural address, Bhyrappa claimed that everyone should respect customs followed in Hindu temples and that the government should not interfere in religious matters.
He also talked about writers who practice activism and criticized them saying that “writers should not become activists”.
Bhyrappa´s statements not just reflect his mentality on menstruation but are also part of the misogynistic attitude prevalent in mainstream society and should be condemned.