Located in the Pathanamthitta District of Kerala the Supreme Court ordered the Sabarimala temple to do away with the practice of prohibiting women’s entry in the temple 

“Those who believe religion and politics are not linked don’t understand either “. This statement by Gandhi has proven itself to be true time and again. In the Indian context it has taken the form of Partition, Hindu Code Bill, Khalistan movement, Godhra riots, etc. The entanglement of religion and politics resurfaced again this month as the constitutional bench of the Supreme Court took up the Sabarimala case. 

It may become “another Ayodhya ‘if the court tries to tinker with the religious practices”, warned the defendants. The complex issue began when a petition was filed challenging rule 3B of the the Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship Rules which puts restrictions on women’s entry. The Sabarimala temple prohibits entry of women between the age group of 10 and 50, because of the celibate nature of Lord Ayyappa. He is believed to be a Brahmachari and in mythology women are viewed as a source of distraction to them. 

The Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Mishra on Wednesday ruled “what applies to a man applies to the woman as well, woman’s right to pray was not dependent on any law but actually a constitutional right “ It was further added that entry can only be prohibited on grounds of health and public morality. The defendants of the practice led by organisations like Kshetra Samrakshana Samiti argued that it was based not on sex but menarche (the onset of menstruation) which is absurd since menarche is a physiological condition applicable on women only.

There’s a great need to break the religious taboos that associate menstruation with impurity as it is used as the basis of religious practices that are discriminatory to women. Patriarchy in India has been systematized through a number of religious customs and social practices, which need legal assistance to be dealt with. It is essential that these customs are tested by constitutional provisions. Keeping women out of temples is not simply denying them a place of worship but a public statement of their social inferiority and subordinate status. The values enshrined and promised to every Indian woman in the constitution are far from reality however there’s still hope.  Cases such as that of Sabarimala temple as put by a Supreme Court advocate “help bridge the gap between constitutional ideals and our social reality “.

Feature Image Credits – OPIndia

Bhavika Behal 

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