Women have waited for decades to enter the sanctum sanctorum of the famous Sabrimalai temple in Kerala to offer their prayers to Lord Ayyappa. However, the temple trust has denied them the right to enter because of the basic reason that they are women, and because they go through a menstrual cycle which is “impure”. The temple trustee went on to say that until a machine that checks women if they are menstruating is installed in the temple, women will not enter the auspicious place. Now the Supreme Court has taken up the matter and will have its first hearing on 17 July.
The apex court in October last year had questioned whether it is correct to discriminate against a particular gender on the basis of their “biological factor” and deny them their right to pray? The temple’s statutory board—Travancore Devaswom Board—justifies its stand of banning women’s entry by saying that the practice comes from a tradition.
Now the constitutional bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice of India, Deepak Misra will decide whether excluding women’s entry is essential for the temple’s tradition or not. Women across the country have risen up to the possibility that they may get a chance to perform their prayers in one of the world’s largest annual pilgrimages in the world.
Trupti Desai, who dynamically contested the ban in the inner sanctum of the Shani Shignapur temple, spoke to SheThePeople.TV and said that she is hopeful that the Supreme Court will hear the voices of lakhs of women and announce a favouring judgment. “The constitution has given us equal rights so we must get it everywhere and the SC judgment should end the dominant behaviour of the Trustee chief of the Sabrimalai temple who has disrespected women by calling us impure. I firmly believe that they will have to lift the ban now.”
This is not a fight against anybody in particular, but against the patriarchal mindset. Today, women have broken all kinds of stereotypes and taken to big roles in leadership starting from agriculture to becoming the country’s president even after they have menstruation which is a natural process. So there is nothing wrong with us women. - Trupti Desai
Talking about how significant it is for women to have the freedom to go anywhere they want including religious places, she said, “Firstly, whether it is Lord Ayyappa or any other god, they all took birth from a woman’s womb so calling women dirty or impure because of menstruation is just wrong in every sense. If the SC does allow women’s entry to the temple then it will be a big win to every woman whoever wanted to go on the pilgrimage and could not.”
“This is not a fight against anybody in particular, but against the patriarchal mindset. Today, women have broken all kinds of stereotypes and taken to big roles in leadership starting from agriculture to becoming the country’s president even after they have menstruation which is a natural process. So there is nothing wrong with us women,” she added.
The temple has a mythological story of Lord Ayyappa which they use to justify the ban. It is said that the bachelor Lord Ayyappa positioned himself in the temple after killing a dangerous demoness Mahishi. And since he was a celibate, no woman in her menstruating years was allowed to enter the temple and try to "lure" the lord out of his meditation.
We are looking forward to the Supreme Court hearing tomorrow and waiting for the judgment to unfold just like several lakhs of women in the country are.
Picture credit- IB Times UK