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Why can’t women enter Sabarimala temple, asks SC

Why can’t women enter Sabarimala temple, asks SC
Highlights

The Supreme Court on Monday questioned the 1500-year-old tradition of banning entry of women of menstrual age group in historic Sabarimala temple in Kerala, saying it cannot be done under the Constitution.

New Delhi/Sabarimala: The Supreme Court on Monday questioned the 1500-year-old tradition of banning entry of women of menstrual age group in historic Sabarimala temple in Kerala, saying it cannot be done under the Constitution.

“The temple cannot prohibit entry (women), except on the basis of religion. Unless you have a constitutional right, you cannot prohibit entry. Anyway, we will examine it on February 8,” a bench of Justices Dipak Misra and N V Ramana said.

The bench was hearing a PIL, filed by the Young Lawyers Association, seeking entry for all women and girls in the Sabarimala temple which, as a practice, does not allow girls after attaining puberty to enter the premises. However, women, who have crossed menopause, are allowed.

During the brief hearing on Monday, the bench posed a query as to why women cannot be allowed inside and observed that the practice was not supported by the constitutional scheme. It asked the government whether it was sure that women have not entered the temple premises in the last 1,500 years.

The bench also observed that it was a public temple and everyone needed to have “the right to access”. At best, there can be religious restrictions and not a general restriction, it said.

Senior advocate K K Venugopal, appearing for Kerala, said the women, who have not attained menopause, cannot preserve the purity during the religious journey to the temple, located on a hilltop, which usually spans 41 days. The SC further asked the Kerala government to submit an affidavit in the matter.

Recently, Sabarimala Temple Board's controversial decision to install machines to test menstruating women had sparked outrage over social networking sites.

A campaign called ‘Happy To Bleed’ was launched after Travancore Devaswom Board president Prayar Gopalakrishnan said that women should be allowed in the Sabarimala Temple only after the invention of a machine to ‘check the purity of women.’

With the Kerala High Court seeking that the famed Sabarimala temple in the state's Pathanamthitta district and its premises are kept clean and turn 'green', local authorities have launched an awareness drive and asked pilgrims to ensure that they adhere to the rules.

Till a few years back, it was open only for two months - from mid-November to mid-January - but now is kept open for five days every month and as a result, the number of pilgrims has risen dramatically.

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