Tem­ple ver­dict protest

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SUP­PORT­ERS of var­i­ous Hindu or­gan­i­sa­tions yes­ter­day took to the streets in var­i­ous cities of Ker­ala to protest against the re­cent supreme court ver­dict that threw open the Sabari­mala tem­ple to women of all ages.

The protest here was led by for­mer Tra­van­core Devas­wom Board (TDB) pres­i­dent and for­mer Congress leg­is­la­tor Pra­yar Gopalakr­ish­nan who said he will op­pose the ver­dict “come what may”.

He, along with Rahul Esh­war, a mem­ber of the Sabari­mala tem­ple “tantric” fam­ily, and hun­dreds of pro­test­ers ral­lied in the city and even held up traf­fic for a while.

The TDB man­ages the Sabari­mala tem­ple.

The largest protest was wit­nessed at Pan­dalam, where mem­bers of the erst­while Pan­dalam royal fam­ily, along with a large num­ber of men and women walked to the Veliye Koyikal Tem­ple at Pan­dalam while singing hymns.

The fam­ily plays an in­te­gral role in the tem­ple’s af­fairs and has al­ready ex­pressed deep dis­sat­is­fac­tion over the court ver­dict.

Pro­test­ers also ral­lied at Pamba town, which is si­t­u­ated on the foothills of the Sabari­mala tem­ple.

“The court or­der is not ac­cept­able as ev­ery re­li­gious place has its own tra­di­tions which can­not be over­ruled by a court of law as it af­fects the sen­ti­ments of devo­tees,” said a pro­tester. – IANS

ADUALISTIC ap­proach in re­li­gions leads to the low­er­ing of women’s dig­nity, the Supreme Court in In­dia said in its ver­dict on fe­male ac­cess to the Sabari­mala tem­ple in In­dia, on Fri­day.

“Sub­ver­sion of women un­der garb of bi­o­log­i­cal and phys­i­o­log­i­cal fac­tors can’t be given le­git­i­macy and can’t pass muster of con­sti­tu­tion­al­ity,” the court said.

It said no wo­man could thus be stopped from en­ter­ing the Sabari­mala tem­ple.

The rul­ing ended a tra­di­tional ban on the en­try of women be­tween the ages of 10 and 50 years to the hill­top shrine in Ker­ala.

“Reli­gion can’t be­come a cover to ex­clude and deny the ba­sic right to wor­ship… nor can phys­i­ol­ogy be a rea­son,” the Bench of five judges said in a 4:1 ma­jor­ity ver­dict.

Women of re­pro­duc­tive age were re­stricted from en­ter­ing the more than 800-year-old shrine in south Ker­ala’s Pathanamthitta District as its pre­sid­ing de­ity, Lord Ayyappa, is con­sid­ered to be celi­bate.

The Supreme Court, which tested the ban against the con­sti­tu­tional right to equal­ity be­fore the law, had asked the tem­ple board to es­tab­lish that the re­stric­tion was an “es­sen­tial and in­te­gral” part of re­li­gious faith. The court wasn’t con­vinced by its ar­gu­ments.

Af­ter hear­ing from the board and other par­ties, the Bench said the prac­tice ap­peared to be based on the pa­tri­ar­chal be­lief that a man’s dom­i­nant sta­tus in so­ci­ety made him ca­pa­ble of aus­ter­ity.

Ac­knowl­edg­ing the pre­sid­ing de­ity had rights, in­clud­ing the right to pri­vacy with re­gard to cer­tain rites ob­served at the shrine, CJI Misra said: “But whether the right of pri­vacy is the same as re­flected in the judg­ment that recog­nises pri­vacy as a fun­da­men­tal right will have to be ex­am­ined.”

Lawyer Indira Jais­ing, who ap­peared for the pe­ti­tion­ers, the In­dian Young Lawyers As­so­ci­a­tion, ar­gued that the tem­ple rules were dis­crim­i­na­tory as they were based on sex. Cit­ing the con­sti­tu­tion, she con­tended that any cus­tom or prac­tice, which vi­o­lated its Ar­ti­cles 14 and 15 per­tain­ing to equal­ity, should be struck off.

The re­stric­tion on women was first chal­lenged in the Ker­ala High Court that de­cided in 1991 that it was part of an age-old tra­di­tion and not dis­crim­i­na­tory. Nearly 15 years later, the In­dian Young Lawyers As­so­ci­a­tion chal­lenged the prac­tice in the Supreme Court, say­ing it was dis­crim­i­na­tory and against gen­der jus­tice.

The tem­ple man­age­ment had ear­lier told the apex court that the ban was be­cause they could not main­tain “pu­rity” on ac­count of men­stru­a­tion.


Devo­tees throng the Sabari­mala tem­ple in the Pathanamthitta District of Ker­ala, In­dia.

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