The Supreme Court today observed that “In the Hindu religion there is no denomination of a Hindu male or female. A Hindu is a Hindu”. The remarks were made as the top court decides whether the famous Sabarimala temple in Kerala must end a centuries-old ban on women of reproductive age.
Judges said that denying women the right to worship at the temple could amount to a violation of their constitutional right to equality.
The powerful trust that governs the Sabarimala temple and the Kerala government have both told the Supreme Court that the traditional ban on women must be preserved. They argued today that the deity at the temple is a brahmachari or celibate, and the presence of women who are capable of giving birth impedes upon his “purity”.
The judges said that argument, based in ritual and traditions, is unlikely to hold in the context of what the constitution guarantees.
Just days ago, the Bombay High Court ordered that women must be allowed access to all temples where men are permitted. That verdict ensured that women devotees were able to offer prayers to the outdoor idol at the famous Shani Shingnapur temple in the Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra, where temple officials and villagers had insisted that only men can enter the inner sanctum of the shrine.