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Sabarimala Temple: Constitution Versus Tradition
Image source: The Hindu
“A Hindu is a Hindu", said the Supreme Court on whether to decide the famous Sabarimala temple in Kerala must end a centuries-old ban on women of reproductive age. The Judges said that denying women the right to worship at the temple could amount to a violation of their constitutional right to equality. Traditionally, women of reproductive age were banned at Kerala's famous Sabarimala temple. But, the government and temple officials say that the ban must not end. The Supreme Court today observed that "In the Hindu religion there is no denomination of a Hindu male or female.” Judges said that denying women the right to worship at the temple could amount to a violation of their constitutional right to equality. On the other hand, the powerful trust that governs the Sabarimala temple and the Kerala government have both told the Supreme Court that the traditional ban on women must be preserved. They argued that the deity at the temple is a brahmachari (a celibate), and the presence of women who are capable of giving birth impedes upon his "purity". The judges said that argument, based in ritual and traditions, is unlikely to hold in the context of what the constitution guarantees.
Image source: The Hindu
The court is currently hearing a PIL, filed by Indian Young Lawyers' Association (IYLA), seeking entry of women in the Sabarimala temple, located on a hill-top in the Western Ghat mountain ranges of Kerala's Pathanamthitta District. Last week, the Bombay High Court ordered that women must be allowed access to all temples where men are permitted. Now female devotees are able to offer prayers to the outdoor idol at the famous Shani Shingnapur temple in the Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra, where temple officials and villagers had insisted that only men can enter the inner sanctum of the shrine. After the ban has been lifted, IYLA are now hoping that the ban would also be lifted in Sabarimala Temple. If the restrictions against the Sabarimala temple is removed then millions of women will not have to wait a lifetime to visit the temple.