Hindu Temple Allows Menstruating Women To Enter Following Supreme Court Ruling
By Sofy Robertson
India’s Supreme Court has lifted a ban that has been in place for centuries; denying women who are menstruating from accessing a Hindu pilgrimage site.
Kerala’s Sabarimala Temple will now be open to all women, regardless of whether or not they are on their periods. Chief Justice Dipak Misra said:
“All devotees are equal, and there cannot be any discrimination on the basis of gender.” (Huffington Post)
Fellow Supreme Court Justice D.Y. Chandrachud said that religion can’t be
“the cover to deny women the right to worship. To treat women as children of a lesser God is to blink at constitutional morality.”
This ruling follows a series of progressive changes from India’s high court. Last week, the court struck down a colonial-era law regarding adultery and, perhaps most widely celebrated, the Supreme Court decriminalised gay sex in September.
Sabarimala Temple is one of the most prominent Hindu temples in the country and attracts around 50 million pilgrims a year. Somewhat surprisingly, the decision to lift the ban did not come unanimously and its one dissenting voice came from Justice Indu Malhotra who is the only woman on the bench. Malhotra argued:
“notions of rationality cannot be invoked in matters of religion. Religious practices cannot solely be tested on the basis of the right to equality.” (Huffington Post)
The board that manages the temple are planning to seek a review of the Supreme Court Decision. The board’s president, A. Padmakumar said:
“Only some women activists are expected to trek the holy hill in the name of the verdict.”
Despite this, Kerala’s government is taking significant steps forward to make the temple more accommodating for female devotees. They plan to install separate washrooms and baths, as well as increase the number of female police on site.
Sabarimala Temple is now the third major religious site in India to be opened up to women through recent court cases. The increased female police presence due to be given to Sabarimala will ensure that all women who want to go to the temple cannot be stopped from following their religion.