• As per the tradition, the deity in Sabarimala, Swami Ayyappa, is a Naishtika Brahmachari, the one who observes staunch celibacy.
  • Malikapurathamma is the eternal lover of Ayyappa who is waiting for the Lord to marry her.
  • Ayyappa has promised to break his celibacy to marry her in the year when there will be no new devotee visiting the holy shrine.
  • 41 days of penance is required for all the devotees to visit the shrine and women will not be able to observe the same due to menstrual impurity.
  • The presiding deity is a Brahmachari, women of reproductive age should not enter the temple.
  • Another argument put forth is that it is the ‘Will of God’ which is known by the ritual called Devaprashnam. In this, astrologers will interpret the will of God and as per the various ‘Devaprashnams’,
  • Another argument is the journey to the hill shrine in Periyar National Park is perilous and the tradition was started to protect the women from the difficulty.


Ayyappa is considered as the Avatar of Dharma Sastha.

  • In Skanda Purana, the name Sastha appears as the son of Mohini, the female avatar of Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva.
  • Dharma Sastha is not a Brahmachari but has two wives, Poorna and Pushkala.
  • Ayyappa is the yogic avatar of Dharma Sastha.
  • The legend of Ayyappa is of relatively recent origin whereas Dharma Sastha legend is from the time immemorial.
  • There is no restriction for women of any age in most Dharma Sastha temples.