Padma Shri recipient and spiritual guru Bangaru Adigalar, who helped break the taboo in some prominent state temples in Tamil Nadu to enable women's entry inside them on all days, has passed away.
Often referred to as 'Amma', Bangaru Adigalar revolutionised the spiritual functioning and beliefs down south when he permitted the entry of women in the popular Adiparasakthi Temple and several religious places overseen by him in and around Chennai.
Rise In Adigalar's Popularity After He Broke Age-Old Traditions
Identified as the Sanctum Santorum, the temples did not permit women to perform puja (prayer ritual) earlier owing to the several stereotypes attached to menstrual cycles and the normas charted by patriarchal practices.
Adigalar used his influence to make vital shifts in traditions that weighed down on temples for decades. He founded the Adhiparasakthi spiritual movement and developed a strong support system in his devotees from not just Tamil Nadu but the rest of the country as well. He received the Padma Shri in 2019 for his contributions to spiritual teachings in the country.
One of his most significant services includes not excluding women from leading prayer rituals in the temples managed by him, even on their days of menstruation, a practice that is still prohibited in several temples across the country. His popularity rose across the nation given his different approach to how menstruating women were treated when it came to spirituality.
It was reported that the 82-year-old guru was fighting ill health lately and reportedly passed away owing to a heart attack on October 19 evening. He is survived by his wife and two children, who manage his religious institutions and a family-run medical college. Expressing his condolences, Tamil Nadu CM M K Stalin said that the late guru will be bestowed with state honours.
Breaking Taboo Around Menstruation
The taboo around women entering temples or performing any prayer ritual still weighs heavy on young girls and women, not just in religious institutions but also in several homes in the country. When it comes to temples breaking this tradition, Dhyanalinga and several Isha temples have opened their doors to menstruating women now.
At a time when temples in Tamil Nadu are welcoming women priests with great honour and giving them the authority to lead religious rituals, it's time more institutions open their minds to the idea of women having the right and choice to perform pujas and visit temples on all days, whether or not they are menstruating.
Suggested reading: Kolkata: This Durga Puja Pandal Is Revolutionising Menstrual Hygiene