The Sabarimala Story: Can visiting temples affect menstruating women?


The recent narrative surrounding the exclusion of menstruating women from the Sabarimala temple has garnered significant attention. Existing analyses often delve into explanations rooted in mythology or present feminist perspectives highlighting gender bias. However, a critical aspect that remains largely unexplored is the impact of temple practices on menstruating women.

It’s worth contemplating whether our predecessors intentionally designed rituals to suppress women or if these traditions arose from different intentions altogether. It’s a thought-provoking question: If India were truly a deeply patriarchal society, its resilience over time might be called into question. Drawing from my personal experiences, which involve extensive solo travel and work in rural areas across India, it’s intriguing how my feelings of security and respect often contradict the presumption of patriarchal norms. It’s in these very regions, where these rules are strictly adhered to, that I’ve encountered an environment where safety and respect seem to thrive.


Mythology often comes to the forefront when attempting to rationalize certain practices. This is particularly true in the case of the Sabarimala temple, where the question of why women of menstruating age are restricted from entering is frequently raised. One explanation that has been offered is that Ayyappa, the deity of Sabarimala, is believed to be celibate, which is cited as the reason for this restriction. However, it’s important to recognize that mythology serves as a means of simplifying intricate concepts and making them accessible to a broader audience. Mythological narratives are essentially allegorical stories that carry spiritual and moral significance, often employing metaphorical language that transcends literal interpretation.

To truly grasp the essence of these issues, it is imperative to engage with the language and context in which they are embedded. The decision of the Sabarimala temple to bar menstruating women’s entry cannot be fully comprehended without delving into the mythological stories that contribute to this decision. Exploring the narratives that depict Ayyappa’s celibacy and understanding the symbolic implications they hold can shed light on the deeper meaning behind the practice.

By studying these narratives, one can begin to decipher the intended messages and the profound symbolism that resides within them. It is through this exploration that we can move beyond surface-level explanations and gain a more nuanced understanding of the complex interplay between mythology, tradition, and contemporary interpretations.


Temples: The Reservoirs Of Energy

The construction and maintenance of temples involve intricate sciences rooted in ancient Indian knowledge systems, such as Agama Shastra, which are practiced by skilled architects known as “sympathies.” These systems incorporate complex geometries, signifying the depth of thought invested in temple creation.

Today, only a select few, including priests, possess a comprehensive understanding of how temples influence human energy fields. Furthermore, the impact of temples on menstruating women remains poorly understood. Regrettably, the rationale behind this has been simplified to the notion of impurity, which inadequately represents the intricate reasoning behind temple design. These sacred structures weren’t solely for religious devotion; they served as spaces through which the wisdom of ancient sages facilitated spiritual experiences for the common person.

How can temples and their stone idols impact human beings? Scientific experiments have demonstrated that stones, crystals, and water can retain memory and frequencies. While an average person’s energy potential ranges between 30-100 millivolts, athletes and remarkable thinkers exhibit potentials around 2000 millivolts. On the contrary, individuals facing depression exhibit potentials as low as 5 millivolts. Being in proximity to stones infused with heightened energy naturally influences our own energy potential.

Beyond spiritual elevation, many temples are renowned for their healing energies. For instance, the Bhagawathi temple in Chengannur is known to aid women dealing with fertility and menstrual issues. Visiting this temple (excluding menstruating days) might recalibrate a woman’s menstrual cycle to align with Amavasya (new moon), a sign of a healthy cycle. This phenomenon is verifiable through shared experiences.

The process of consecrating a murti, known as prana prathistha, bestows life and energy upon it. The temple architecture, too, facilitates the accumulation and direction of this energy towards devotees. Notably, different temples might hold distinct energies, even if they venerate the same deity. The intricacies of the energy infusion, like in the Ayyappa temple at Sabarimala, are known solely to the chief priest involved. The sankalpa or intention embedded in each murti dictates the corresponding rituals, which in turn maintain the intended energy.

Examining Sabarimala’s rituals, they revolve around guiding men to renounce worldly life through practices like celibacy, culminating in spiritual awakening. 


In some traditional cultures, temples are considered not only places of spiritual worship but also as centers of communal bonding and knowledge dissemination. Menstruation, being a natural bodily process, has historically been viewed through various lenses in different societies.

In certain ancient cultures, including some indigenous communities, menstruation was seen as a powerful and sacred time for women. During menstruation, women were believed to be in closer connection with the spiritual realm and were often sequestered in sacred spaces, such as special temples or designated areas within the community. These spaces were meant to provide a supportive environment where women could rest, reflect, and engage in spiritual practices without the demands of daily chores.

Interestingly, these sacred spaces allowed women to share wisdom, stories, and cultural knowledge, fostering a sense of sisterhood and community. It was a time for learning about herbal medicine, storytelling, traditional crafts, and other essential skills. Menstruating women were respected as bearers of sacred knowledge during this time, challenging the notion of impurity associated with menstruation in some other contexts.

In a way, these practices recognized and valued the cyclical nature of women’s bodies, aligning with a broader understanding of nature’s rhythms. While not directly tied to mainstream temple practices, these cultural nuances provide a broader perspective on the intersection of temples, menstruation, and the diverse ways in which societies have perceived and integrated this natural process into their social fabric.

Apana Vayu and Energy Flow:
In ancient Indian yogic and spiritual traditions, “Apana Vayu” is considered a downward-moving energy responsible for elimination and menstruation, among other bodily functions. According to these beliefs, when the natural downward flow of Apana Vayu is disrupted, it can lead to physical discomfort and even a cessation of the menstrual flow. This is why menstruating women are often advised to avoid spaces or practices that could potentially reverse this downward energy.

The Role of Spiritual Spaces:
Ancient temples are often regarded as powerful energy centers in many cultures. According to the aforementioned belief system, if menstruating women visit such spaces repeatedly, they might experience changes and discomfort in their menstrual cycles. This belief is based on the idea that the strong energies in these spaces could interfere with the natural downward flow of Apana Vayu.

Yoga Asanas and Menstruation:
Certain yoga asanas, or poses, are believed to affect the flow of energy within the body. In this context, inverted postures, where the body is positioned with the head below the heart, could potentially disrupt the Apana Vayu flow. As a result, engaging in these poses during menstruation might lead to discomfort and alterations in the menstrual cycle, according to this belief system.

Understanding from a Modern Perspective:
While these traditional beliefs provide an intriguing perspective on the intersection of spirituality and bodily functions, it’s important to acknowledge that modern scientific understanding of menstruation differs. Menstruation is primarily influenced by hormonal changes and physiological processes, rather than solely by spiritual activities.

Factors such as stress, lifestyle changes, and underlying health conditions can impact menstrual regularity and comfort. The discomfort that some individuals might experience in relation to spiritual practices during menstruation could be attributed to a combination of psychological effects, physical strain from certain poses, and changes in routine.

It’s crucial to respect individual beliefs and cultural practices while also prioritizing health and well-being. If someone experiences discomfort or irregularities with their menstrual cycle, seeking guidance from a medical professional is advisable. Medical experts can provide evidence-based insights and rule out any underlying health issues.

The relationship between spirituality and menstruation is a complex and multi-faceted topic. While ancient Indian traditions suggest that certain spiritual practices can interfere with the natural flow of Apana Vayu and impact menstruation, modern scientific understanding leans more toward physiological factors influencing menstrual cycles. By finding a balance between respecting cultural beliefs and seeking evidence-based medical guidance, individuals can make informed decisions about their health and well-being.


The Sabarimala temple stands out from other religious sites due to its distinctive practice of imposing a more extensive entry restriction. Unlike many temples that only prohibit menstruating women, the Sabarimala temple restricts access to all women aged between 10 and 50 years. This unique restriction is deeply rooted in the spiritual philosophy of “brahmacharya,” a concept that transcends the conventional notion of celibacy. Unlike Western celibacy, which typically denotes abstaining from sexual activity, “brahmacharya” involves redirecting and harnessing sexual energy for the purpose of spiritual enlightenment.

The temple’s rationale for this prohibition revolves around the sanctity and spiritual focus it seeks to maintain within its premises. By excluding women of menstruating age, the temple aims to create an environment that is conducive to the practice of “brahmacharya.” The presence of menstruating women is believed to introduce potential disturbances in the energy flow and spiritual ambiance that the practice requires. As a result, the temple places great emphasis on safeguarding the atmosphere that enables devotees to channel their energies towards higher spiritual pursuits.

It’s important to note that while this restriction has sparked debates surrounding gender equality and religious traditions, it finds its foundation in the temple’s dedication to preserving the purity and sanctity of the spiritual space. By upholding the principles of “brahmacharya” and fostering an environment for spiritual growth, the Sabarimala temple underscores its commitment to providing a unique space for devotees on their spiritual journeys.

Tantric philosophy indeed emphasizes the control and redirection of sexual energy as a means of spiritual development. This approach draws upon the idea that sexual fluids in men (semen) and women (menstrual blood) contain potent life-giving properties that can be transformed into subtle energies through practices like “brahmacharya.” In Ayurveda, these transformed energies are referred to as “ojas” and “tejas.” The question arises: what would happen if women embraced practices that converted their sexual energy into these subtle energies?

Engaging in practices that transform sexual energy could lead to a reduction in menstrual flow and potentially even halt ovulation. Consequently, this might impact women’s reproductive abilities. While women are certainly capable of pursuing paths of renunciation and practicing similar techniques to male practitioners, they would need to accept the possible outcome of decreased or ceased menstruation. Given the essential role of menstruation in the continuation of life, one could speculate that this could be a reason why women of menstruating age are denied entry into the Sabarimala temple, even if they are not menstruating at the time.

It’s important to note that the aforementioned explanation is not a mere belief to be taken at face value or dismissed outright. If temples do have an impact on menstruating women, it prompts us to explore deeper. To understand whether temples can genuinely influence menstrual cycles, we must move beyond religious considerations and delve into the realm of curiosity and knowledge. Rather than reducing feminism to unexamined demands, we should strive to explore the potential consequences of our actions and decisions, especially when they concern matters we may not fully comprehend.

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