MADIKERI: The three-day octagonal questioning ritual or the ‘ashtamangala parshne’ in Talacauvery came to an end on Wednesday with astrologer Narayana Puduval banning women from climbing the Brahmagiri Hill.
"Only men, girls below 10 years and women above 50 years are allowed to climb the Brahmagiri Hill from the start of ‘Tula Sankramana’ (October 17) to ‘Vrushabha Sankramana’ (May 15)," he stated, adding, “Women, dressed in shorts and inappropriate clothes, are ruining the sanctity of the place.”
He opined that the pilgrim centre has been turned into a tourist destination, which has weakened the spiritual vibe of the place. He feared that this will result in the disappearance of source of River Cauvery. “The tourists are visiting the pilgrim centre without any devotion to the Goddess. Women are polluting the source of the river, which has decreased the divinity of the place,” he said.
The ban on women climbing the Bramhagiri Hill comes in as a shock to many who strongly believe that they have equal rights as men in worshipping River Cauvery, who herself is a female. “Most of the tourists, majority of the men, come to the temple in an inebriated state. How is it that only women are ruining the sanctity?” questioned Prabha, a resident of Madikeri.
The prediction from the astrologer has irked Ananya, a feminist, who voiced out saying, “This is yet another case of blaming women for something that isn’t connected to us because we are easy targets. What we wear, even to pilgrimage sites, shouldn’t be a problem since it’s a personal choice. And this should not be used as an excuse to ban us from the site. Water shortage isn’t caused because of a particular gender; may be if we utilized our resources better and were more environmentally conscious we wouldn’t be in this state, where we are reduced to having some astrologer make uneducated remarks. This is another example of how deep-rooted patriarchal notions are in our society and how little we do to try and stop them.”