Thursday, April 21, 2016

Interesting Indian Supreme Court case about (menstruation age) women NOT being permitted access to Sabarimala (Ayyappa), Kerala deity

Some background info. about Sabarimala from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sabarimala:

Sabarimala is a Hindu pilgrimage centre located at the Periyar Tiger Reserve in the Western Ghat mountain ranges of Pathanamthitta District, Perunad grama panchayat in Kerala. It is one of the largest annual pilgrimages in the world, with an estimated over 100 million devotees visiting every year. Sabarimala is believed to be the place where the Hindu god Ayyappan meditated after killing the powerful demoness Mahishi. Ayyappan's temple is situated amidst 18 hills. The temple is situated on a hilltop at an altitude of 468 m (1,535 ft) above mean sea level, and is surrounded by mountains and dense forests.
...
Sabarimala is linked to Hindu pilgrimage, predominantly for men of all ages. Sabarimala pilgrims can be identified easily, as they wear black or blue dress. They do not shave until the completion of the pilgrimage, and smear Vibhuti or sandal paste on their forehead. Females who menstruate (usually between the ages of approximately 12 and 50) are not allowed to enter the temple, since the story attributed to Ayyappa prohibits the entry of the women in the menstrual [Ravi: I think it should be menstruation] age group. This is because Ayyappan is a Bramhachari (celibate). The temple is open for worship only during the days of Mandalapooja (approximately 15 November to 26 December), Makaravilakku or "Makar Sankranti" (14 January) and Maha Vishuva Sankranti (14 April), and the first five days of each Malayalam month.
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From http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/sabarimala-temple-entry-ban-can-menstruation-be-a-factor-asks-supreme-court/article8472787.ece, dated April 15th 2016,

Questioning taboos entrenched in the Indian psyche from time immemorial, the Supreme Court on Wednesday decided to answer whether a physiological phenomenon like menstruation can be a guiding factor for denying women of a certain age the right to enter and worship in a temple.

Hearing the constitutionality of the entry ban on women between ages of 10 and 55 at the famed Sabarimala temple in Kerala, a Bench of Justices Dipak Misra, V. Gopala Gowda and Kurian Joseph was hearing senior advocate Indira Jaising representing a group of students who are part of the ‘Happy to Bleed’ campaign.
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A few days later. The section below is based on http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/sabarimala-entry-ban-gender-equality-is-a-constitutional-message-says-sc/article8490310.ece, dated April 18th 2016.

The friend of the court (amicus curiae) and senior advocate, Raju Ramachandran was asked by the Supreme Court bench (Justice Kurian Joseph) why should he (i.e. the women he is representing) insist on seeing the deity which says, "I don't want to see you.". Mr. Raju Ramachandran reportedly answered that the deity not wanting to see menstruation age women was an "interpretation created by those who have managed the temple."

He further said (here I means the "Happy to Bleed" women he represents, I guess), "If I, a woman, have faith. If I want to worship. I must have access to see Him... that part is protected by the Constitution irrespective of sex, gender, caste or biological phenomena".

Ravi: Right now, one state of India, Maharashtra, is seeing a campaign by women activists to break taboos on women entering the sanctum sanctorum of some temples in Maharashtra. They have won entry in some temple(s) but recently I read somewhere that when they tried forcible entry into another temple which has these restrictions, they were assaulted!

It will be very interesting to see how the Indian Supreme Court resolves this really tangled and messy question of constitutional freedom of worship of (menstruation age) women versus age-old tradition of Sabarimala temple of banning entry of (menstruation age) women.

[I thank Wikipedia and thehindu.com and have presumed that they will not have any objections to me sharing the above extracts (short extract from thehindu.com) from their websites on this post which is freely viewable by all, and does not have any financial profit motive whatsoever.]

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