Freedom to pray: on Sabarimala verdict(Hindu summary-29th Sept 2018)

www.iasinsights.in; www.iasgyaan.com posts Hindu summary about SC verdict on Sabarimala temple entry to women.

Freedom to pray: on Sabarimala verdict

Context:

  • A petition was filed about women being barred from Sabarimala temple on the grounds of hygenic conditions.
  • The legal challenge to the exclusion of women in the 10-50 age group from the Sabarimala temple in Kerala represented a conflict between the group rights of the temple authorities in enforcing the presiding deity’s strict celibate status and the individual rights of women to offer worship there.

Supreme Court verdict:

Supreme Court has said women can no longer be barred from entering the Sabarimala temple, considered to be one of the holiest for Hindus.

Reasons for such verdict:

  • The Constitution protects religious freedom in two ways. It protects an individual’s right to profess, practise and propagate a religion, and it also assures similar protection to every religious denomination to manage its own affairs.
  • The argument that the practice is justified because women of menstruating age would not be able to observe the 41-day period of abstinence before making a pilgrimage failed to impress the judges.
  • The Constitution protects religious freedom in two ways.

Art 24: It protects an individual’s right to profess, practise and propagate a religion,

Art 26:It assures similar protection to every religious denomination to manage its own affairs.

  • SC by its verdict announced that Art 25 prevails over Art 26
  • Chief Justice Dipak Misra stated, any rule based on segregation of women pertaining to biological characteristics is indefensible and unconstitutional.

Significance of Sabarimala temple:

  • Sabarimala is one of the most prominent Hindu temples in the country. Millions of devotees from all over the world visit the temple to seek blessings.
  • To enter the temple, pilgrims have to climb 18 holy steps. According to the temple’s website, the act of crossing these 18 steps is so sacred that no pilgrim can climb them without undertaking a rigorous 41-day fast.
  • Devotees are also supposed to follow specific rituals before they enter the shrine.
  • Some of them include pilgrims wearing only black or blue and not being allowed to shave until the completion of their pilgrimage.
  • As part of the ritual, they also smear sandalwood paste on their foreheads.

Editor note:

To call India secular completely, prevailing Art 25 over Art 26 should not be restricted only to Hindu temples, infact it should be extended to Islam religious practices where women are allowed partially. 

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