A five-judge constitution bench of the Supreme Court has made a decision to adjudicate whether women between the ages of 10 and 50 should be denied entry into the Sabarimala Ayyappa temple in Kerala because they menstruate.
While devaswom minister Kadakampally Surendran welcomed the SC order with an expectation that the constitutional bench would uphold the state government's position, Travancore devaswom board (TDB) president Prayar Gopalakrishnan demanded protection from constitutional bodies to belief and rituals.
The top court has also raised six questions on the issue that it wants the constitution bench to consider.
Despite this, Sabarimala remains different from many traditional temples as it never observed caste distinctions, even as most temples in Kerala restricted entry to those belonging to the four varnas of Vedic Hinduism.
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As was usual for Buddhist monasteries in the middle ages, women were not allowed admission to a place inhabited exclusively by celibate monks.
The court is hearing a plea challenging the practice of banning entry of such women in the temple. The Constitution bench will now decide if the women should be allowed to enter the Sabarimala temple in Kerala and if the temple management can curb the right to pray.
The court heard the petitioner's counsel, Raju Ramachandran, amicus Indira Jaising for intervener Happy to Bleed, KK Venugopal (then) senior advocate for respondent the temple authorities etc. According to them, banning the entry of women would be against the basic tenets of Hinduism. This violates the rights of the women.
In July, it had said that "a temple is a public religious place".
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"Hoping a positive verdict, the women rights activist Brinda Adige had told Asian Age that for last few months, the SC had been giving positive, landmark and progressive verdicts". "Every right needs to be balanced but every balancing has its own limitations..."
Whether Rule 3 of Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship (Authorisation of Entry) Rules permits "religious denomination" to ban entry of women between the age of 10 to 50 years?
"I hope it will allow women to enter the temple otherwise we can not say it is secular country".
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