Indian supreme court upholds women’s right to enter Kerala temple


India’s supreme court has ruled against a ban on girls and women of menstruating age from entering a prominent Hindu temple in southern Kerala state, upholding rights to equality of worship. The authorities at the Sabarimala temple, which attracts tens of millions of pilgrims every year, have said the ban on women and girls aged from 10 to 50 was essential to the rites related to the temple’s chief deity, Ayyappan, who is considered eternally celibate, and were rooted in a centuries-old tradition.

In the supreme court judgment, the country’s chief justice, Dipak Misra, said: “Restrictions put by Sabarimala temple can’t be held as essential religious practice.

“No physiological and biological factor can be given legitimacy if it does not pass the test of conditionality.”Stating that society needs to undergo a perceptual shift, Misra said: “Patriarchy in religion cannot be permitted to trump over elements of pure devotion borne out of faith and the freedom to practise and profess one’s religion.”

The ruling is the latest in a series of landmark judgments by India’s top court this month, involving some of the most sensitive issues in Indian society.(theguardian)…[+]