An age old discipline that is still followed at Sabarimala
is the ban on the entry of young women to the hill shrine.
In fact, eves are not allowed even in to the poonkavanam or
forest around Sannidhanamm, making Sabarimala the only temple
in India where women aged between 10
and 50 cannot visit.
The ban has always been a controversial issue and a heavy
demand to revoke it was raised by many a feminist organisation.
However, the Devaswom and other agencies connected with Sabarimala
have been successful in resisting this demand.One of the main
reasons cited to justify this traditional stand is the duration
of period of penance. Tradition insists on 41-day
severe penance before undertaking the pilgrimage.The
fact that it is womanly impossible to stick on to a strict
routine laid down against a conservative Hindu background,
especially the stigma attached to menstruation, is cited as
one reason for restricting women's entry.
Similarly, the six-km trek from Pamba to Sannidhanam through
hazardous forest path is physically a demanding task. However,
this argument will not hold good in today's world abundant
with examples of Amazonian talents.