Temple verdict protest
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.