In a historic decision, the Supreme Court has pronounced a verdict giving permission for women to enter the Sabarimala Temple lifting the restrictions of century’s old tradition.
The Sabarimala Temple had restrictions on women and did not allow women from the age of 10-50 years inside temple citing the problem of menstruation. This tradition was being practiced since centuries which had earned both support and criticism.
However, recently, there was a huge debate on the issue, in which a section of people argued that they must be given entry into the temple as they have equal rights as men. But the traditional Hindu women had put a strong objection saying that the temple customs will have to be followed and it should not be treated as a matter of inequality between men and women.
The devotees also argued that the real reason for barring entry for women was because women in the age of 10-50 will not be able to follow the strict customs which is to be done before anyone visits Sabarimala Temple. But this was not well received by the liberal brigade who had argued that the no one has the right to curb the rights of women citing about menstruation.
A PIL was filed in the Supreme Court sometime back, which today pronounced allowing women to enter the temple.
Chief Justice Dipak Misra observed that subversion of women rights under the garb of physiological phenomenon cannot be allowed. “Devotees of Lord Ayyappa are Hindus, don’t constitute a separate religious denomination. No physiological and biological factor can be given legitimacy if it doesn’t pass the test of conditionality. Restrictions put by Sabarimala temple can’t be held as essential religious practice,” he said. “The practice of barring women in age group of 10-50 to go inside the temple is violative of constitutional principles.”
CJI Misra also said that the right to worship cannot be subjected to gender discrimination and that in a country where women are worshipped as goddesses, such restrictions cannot be placed. The four of five judges were of the same opinion in the case with only one dissenting opinion, that of Justice Indu Malhotra. “Religious practices can’t solely be tested on the basis of the right to equality. It’s up to the worshippers, not the court to decide what’s religion’s essential practice,” she said.
Since this issue is not merely an women rights issue and is far more an issue of faith, we have to wait and watch how many women will really take a step forward to enter the Sabarimala temple.
Travancore Devaswom Board president A Padmakumar said a review petition would be filed after getting support from other religious heads following the Supreme Court verdict.