In this Dec. 1, 2015 file photo, Hindu worshippers queue during a pilgrimage at the Sabarimala temple in the southern Indian state of Kerala. (AP Photo/ Hareesh Kumar A S, File)

India’s top court lifts temple’s ban on women who menstruate

India’s Supreme Court lifted the temple’s ban on women of menstruating age, holding that equality is supreme irrespective of age and gender.

India’s Supreme Court on Friday lifted a temple’s ban on women of menstruating age, holding that equality is supreme irrespective of age and gender.

The historic Sabarimala temple had barred women age 10 to 50 from entering the temple, one of the largest Hindu pilgrimage centres in the world.

Some religious figures consider menstruating women to be impure. But the court ruled 4-1 the practice of excluding women cannot be regarded as an essential religious practice.

The temple argued the celibate nature of Sabarimala temple’s presiding deity Lord Ayyappa was protected by India’s Constitution.

The top court’s verdict is part a string of recent rulings that recognize more rights of women, challenging deeply conservative Indian society. On Thursday, it scrapped a law which did not allow wives to bring criminal charges against adulterous husbands.

Chief Justice Dipak Misra in part of Friday’s judgment said devotion could not be discriminatory and a patriarchal notion could not trump equality in devotion.

“Religion cannot 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,” he said.

Rahul Eswaran, an attorney for the temple, said its management would seek a review of the court’s decision. It noted girls and women of other ages were allowed in the temple without restrictions.

Chhavi Methi, a women’s rights activist, hailed the court verdict, but said its acceptance by temple authorities remained to be seen.

“I am doubtful the temple authorities would take it in the right spirit. Women would accept it, but its implementation might pose a problem,” she said.

Sabarimala is surrounded by mountains and dense forests in its location at the Periyar Tiger Reserve in southern Kerala state. Up to 50 million devotees visit the temple every year.

Several temples across India have banned women, saying it is intended to preserve the purity of their shrines. The operators of a temple in Rajasthan state believe Hindu god Kartikeya curses women who enter the temple, instead of blessing them.

The country’s secular courts have been intervening recently in cases where a religion’s gender beliefs were seen as discriminatory.

In 2016, a court ordered the Maharashtra state government to ensure that no woman was denied entry to the Shani Shingapur temple in the town of Ahmednagar.

Also, the Mumbai High Court ruled that women cannot be barred from the inner sanctum of the Haji Ali shrine, an Islamic mosque and tomb in the southern part of the city.

Related: Former B.C. gangster arrested for drug operation in India

Related: Federal leaders trade barbs about India trip at press gallery dinner

Ashok Sharma, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Penticton RCMP seek assistance locating missing man

Victor Genero has been missing since Feb. 24; he was last seen in Penticton.

Ministry grants SD67 extension to balance books, submit amended budget

The board of trustees voted Monday to acquire outside help to deal with budget concerns

Charges discontinued in 2017 shooting death of Penticton man

The manslaughter charge against Sylvain Demers has been stayed by Crown

Fire crews respond to ‘false malicious’ fire alarm at Penticton business

The Penticton Fire Department was called to a structure fire that turned out to be a false alarm

“Who” dunnit? Penticton RCMP seek midnight masked bandit

If you recognize this culprit and give a hoot, call Penticton RCMP

Clothing, jewelry, purses: RCMP ask court about disposal of evidence in Robert Pickton case

Pickton was sentenced to life with no chance of parole for 25 years for the murders of six women

Wet’suwet’en herreditary chiefs meet with provincial, federal ministers

Neither party speaking on the groundwork laid for tomorrow’s talks

Couple in crash on Highway 1 mistake Shuswap for Lower Mainland

Chase RCMP report Mercedes Benz collides with transport truck

Speaker ‘will not tolerate illegal activity’ on B.C. legislature grounds, says chief of staff

Chief of staff to the B.C. speaker Alan Mullen says situation with demonstrators appears ‘fluid’

MPs to examine privacy implications of facial-recognition technology used by RCMP

The MPs will look at how the technology affects the privacy, security and safety of children

Dates back to 2009: Calgary police lay charges in fraud involving semi-trucks

Three people from Calgary are facing charges that include fraud over $5,000

Laughing ladies and country artists sell out Okanagan venue

Alan Doyle and I Am Woman, Hear Me Laff! back to back sold out

Revelstoke mother and daughter return home after coronavirus quarantine in Asia

Jensine Morabito and her daughter were on Holland America’s Westerdam but did not catch the virus

Most Read