Ever since I learnt about shameless misogyny in the name of religion, the first temple that caught my fancy, for the wrong reasons (of course), was Sabarimala. Nestled in the Periyar Tiger Reserve in Kerala’s Pathanamthitta district, this temple only allows male devotees to come and offer prayers. For women, particularly those in the menstrual age group of 10 and 50 years, entry here is a strict no-no (unless you get a total abdominal hysterectomy done, which will stop you from spilling blood in a sacred place). Talk about traditions.
Now, in the wake of movements favouring women’s rights to worship freely, the Supreme Court has raised some very valid objections, questioning Sabarimala’s century-old tradition. The apex court has lambasted the culture of prohibiting women from entering the Sabarimala shrine, saying the practice is unconstitutional as it dents the core principles and values.
The SC questioned the understanding of the tradition. It said Sabarimala is a public place of worship and must adhere to the constitutional values of gender equality. Citing Article 25 of the Constitution, which guarantees every citizen of India (irrespective of gender) the Right to Practice and Propagate Religion, the court said Sabarimala’s tradition was a blatant violation of the spirit of Article 25.
The Kerala government has tirelessly and repeatedly maintained its stand on Sabarimala, saying it is the government’s moral duty to protect and promote traditions. A senior advocate defending the ban cheekily stated it was due to the biological phenomenon of menstruation.
Very progressive, dear Kerala.
Whenever our country makes a progressive move, there is always somebody waiting to make the regressive pull. Women are walking in the space, having a rendezvous with the celestial bodies, and here in our country, we have people stopping them from visiting places of worship. What is the logic?
Are women lesser human beings? Who are these ‘purists’ to challenge the Constitution and discriminate based on gender? And what is their logic anyway? They want to sway the judiciary – that is bound by the Constitutional rights and duties – to their liking, all for ‘tradition’.
This is not a feminist movement; it is a basic demand, like the Right to Education and Dignified Living that everybody should be a part of. There is underlying sexism in these kinds of traditions that are impeding growth. Just because she bleeds every month, has a pair of ovaries and a functional and perfectly-healthy womb, you will stop her from worshiping? Whose God is it, yours? Did you give birth to the deity or was it vice versa? Oh wait, do you own ayyappan’s copyrights?
Stop this preposterous discrimination, Sabarimala. The country has a thousand other things to take care of, fighting for human rights should not be one of them. We are in a post-modern era; let us act conscientiously, without having an organ-based favouritism.