Sabarimala is an ancient temple where it is dedicated to “Lord Ayyappa”, the God of growth. It is believed that he meditated at Sabarimala temple and became one with the divine. That followed an old custom in which a man has to undergo the 41 days vratham practice undertaken by the pilgrims referred to as ‘Ayyappans’ where they are also required to strictly follow a Lacto-vegetarian diet, refrain from alcohol, not use any profanity and allow the hair and nails to grow without cutting. They are expected to bathe twice a day and visit the local temples regularly. They wear black or blue clothes, do not shave until the completion of the pilgrimage, sandal paste on their forehead and there was a ban on women entering the temple premises is being practiced for centuries, as devotees consider Lord Ayyappa, the presiding deity of the temple, to be celibate.
So, This petition was filed in the public interest by a registered association of young lawyers challenging the constitutional validity of Rule 3(b) of the Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship (Authorization of Entry Rules, 1965) which states that “Women at such time during which they are not by custom and usage allowed to enter a place of worship” was the basis of the practice of excluding women of the age group of 10 through to 50 years to enter the temple. And rule 3 was framed by the state of Kerala which restricts particular classes of persons who are not entitled to enter into the temple that was ultra-virus the Section 3 where all sections and classes are allowed to enter into place for worship. Then 14 years on 28th September 2018, the court delivered its verdict in Sabarimala temple entry. A 4:1 majority held that the practice of the temple of excluding women is unconstitutional.
This deals with Articles 25 and 26 that is the Right to freedom of religion. But Temple’s head priest, Kandaru Rajeev Aru, said they were “disappointed” by the court order but accepted it. Following the court’s order, hundreds of Ayyappa devotees, including women, blocked the state and national highways in various parts of Kerala. The protests took a political turn after BJP ally Shiv Sena warned of “mass suicides” if women set foot inside the Sabarimala temple. The protests intensified as the date of opening neared. When the doors to Sabarimala opened, the protesters camped at the base of the trek at Nilakkal and at the last stretch of the trek at Pamba to stop women from entering the temple.
Then this judgment has also interpreted “Untouchability” under Article 17 and also Article 21 for referring basic rights of women as social exclusion is been practices and legitimized on the notion of purity and pollution on menstruation women. So Supreme Court took reference from texts and ancient scripture to find out the connection between the Lord’s celibate nature and exclusion of women but it was found that this was not the essential practice of the religion as women were allowed to visit the temple and even they perform one of the main ceremonies of rice-feeding in that temple only and thus, exclusion of women was not a uniform practice.
Kerala High Court’s one reason was the arduous nature of the journey and on this Supreme Court pointed out that such things should be left on individual choice so, this is not a religious reason to claim constitutional protection and the menstrual status of a woman is deeply personal and an intrinsic part of her privacy and such religious beliefs cannot be termed as constitutional. Because of which the court looked at whether the absence of such practice would make a fundamental change to the religion.
In the Qureshi Muslims of Bihar, there is a practice of sacrificing cows on Bakrid, and looking into Islamic texts there was no such evidence found and this was the same with Ananda Margi’s where they stated that performing Tandav dance in public is essential but nothing can be traced from texts and thus, from the mid-1960’s it was clear that the courts would have to decide what the essential practices of religion were. In our country, mere superstitions or a practice that is happening for a long time is considered an essential part of the religion which is not and such superstitious beliefs cannot be given constitutional protection.
Each judgment assists with moving us an inch forward from our old notions and conviction. Sabarimala judgment is one such gas pedal. It is tied in with cleaning the spider webs in our mind about the monthly cycle and the possibility of pollution-related with it, yet now the time has come to move the concentration from such restrictions to significant issues identifying with same like feminine cleanliness, sterile security, open training and it incites us to consider our regular real factors of separation that we went over, it is one of the way breaking judgment as it is useful in breaking every one of the inabilities to think straight that were chocked in our mind on the name of religion.
This judgment isn’t restricted to any Hinduism however it reaches out to Christianity, Islam, Judaism, and Zoroastrianism where a bleeding lady is considered as contaminating the encompassing and is avoided from parties. This judgment is in the soul of Article 51 A which deals with promoting harmony and spirit of brotherhood which denounces practices derogatory to the dignity of women, to value and preserve the rich heritage, and to develop the scientific temper of humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform. We need to should stop such beliefs and customs that oppose human society and do not go with the provisions of law and break the chain of fanciful stories and beliefs that creates new superstations.
Therefore Sabarimala’s judgment is Empathetic, Bold, Comprehensive, Focused, Reformative, and Empowering. That changes history and is one of the most famous landmark cases.
I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.
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