KOCHI: In a country where women are worshipped as God but not yet allowed to perform tantric rituals, an 18-yearold girl from Thrissur is ushering in a new era in the conservative Brahmin community by doing daily pujas at a Hindu temple, having conducted the installation of a Goddess’ idol at the age of 12. Sticking to tradition and upholding the cultural sensitivities, Jyotsna Padmanabhan, a second-year BA Sanskrit student at the Sree Sankara College, Kalady, is thus breaking the barriers of gender and age by performing the rituals at the Sree Krishna Temple, Ponjanam, near Kattoor, in Thrissur.
Heated debates over the topic of whether to give young women permission to enter temples, including at Sabarimala, are held every now and then, but Jyotsna, remains unperturbed and finds it as an opportunity. “I’ve been exposed to all tantric rituals practised in the Kerala temples right from my childhood, and I got opportunities to interact with acharyans and scholars in the field,” said Jyotsna.
“I’ve been doing all pujas at the Sree Krishna Temple as an upasana, but I’m not interested in pursuing tantra as a career,” said Jyotsna who, however, was quick to add she would like to devote more time to study and master it which she feels “awakes the dormant potential force in human beings.” Jyotsna’s father and the temple’s chief priest Padmanabhan Naboothiripad of Tharanellur Thekkiniyedathu Mana says neither any Hindu text nor the tantric tradition prohibits women from performing the rituals in temples.
“The male-dominated society always kept women away from tantric rituals and traditions citing precedence. In fact, women are the best to perform tantric rituals in temples because they’re the creators and they’ve the quality to purify themselves. No man can purify himself like a woman does and it’s very important considering that all these rituals are an upasana,” said Naboothiripad.
THRIPRAYAR Sri Rama Temple priest Tharanellur Veluthedathu Padmanabhan Namboothiripad, who started teaching Jyotsna the basics and nuances when she was just seven, said Kerala Tanthra was important among different similar schools in the country as it dealt with temple worship and the complex rituals related to it. “No man will become complete without a woman as she’s the power centre. So is the case with the God. Women are ideal to perform tantric rituals as they can channel the energy more wisely than men. But our male-dominated society, which knows the potential energy of women, cleverly kept them away from the sanctum sanctorums over the decades,” said Padmanabhan Namboothiripad.