In the Hindu re­li­gion, there is no Hindu male or fe­male, says SC

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - HT Navi Mumbai Live - - FRONT PAGE - Bhadra Sinha bhadra.sinha@hin­dus­tan­times.com

Can a woman’s age de­ter­mine her right to pray, the SC asked the Sabarimala tem­ple board on Wed­nes­day, say­ing the Hindu re­li­gion didn’t dis­crim­i­nate against women.

“In Hindu re­li­gion, there is no de­nom­i­na­tion of a Hindu male or fe­male. A Hindu is a Hindu,” a spe­cial three- judge bench headed by jus­tice Di­pak Misra said, stress­ing on gen­der equal­ity.

The court is hear­ing a pub­lic in­ter­est lit­i­ga­tion (PIL) chal­leng­ing the decades-old tra­di­tion of keep­ing women of re­pro­duc­tive age out of the fa­mous the Sabarimala Ayyappa tem­ple. One of the holi­est Hindu shrines, the hill­top Ker­ala tem­ple even al­lows in non-Hin­dus.

Women aged be­tween 10 and 50 years are not al­lowed be­cause the de­ity is a celi­bate (Naisthik Brah­machari), the Ker­ala govern­ment and the Tra­van­core Devas­wom Board that man­ages the tem­ple have sub­mit­ted.

The court won­dered if the ar­gu­ment would stand con­sti­tu­tional test. “They [tem­ple] have de­vel­oped a cus­tom and tra­di­tion be­ing fol­lowed to main­tain pu­rity of the tem­ple. But the ques­tion is whether phys­i­o­log­i­cal phe­nom­e­non can be a guid­ing fac­tor to deny en­try to a class of women within the class of fe­males,” jus­tice Misra said.

How­ever, jus­tice Kurien asked if the tem­ple — as an in­sti­tu­tion — was en­ti­tled to pro­tect its de­ity.

CON­TIN­UED ON P12

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