It’s a Long Road to Sabarimala. What About Our Right to Pray at Home?

Gender

It’s a Long Road to Sabarimala. What About Our Right to Pray at Home?

Illustration: Shruti Yatam

“N

otions of rationality cannot be brought into matters of religion,” said Justice Indu Malhotra, the only woman and dissenting judge on the panel that declared everyone, including women of menstrual age, has a right to enter Kerala’s Sabarimala Temple.

Justice Malhotra echoes the thoughts of a majority of followers of India’s institutionalised religion, which is as far from logic and scientific rationale as the Sabarimala priests are from abiding by the Supreme Court verdict. To bring home the case in point, Hindu scriptures, specifically the Puranas, detail menstruation with a story: God Indra once killed a Brahmin, which is a sin of the highest order. To absolve himself of it, he divided his sin into four parts (because Gods can do that), and distributed it among four different things. To make up for this, he even awarded them with a boon. Trees, water, and the earth took three parts, and women took the fourth. So, for five days every month, women pay penance for the sin they did not even commit and bleed. Hence they are considered impure. In return, they received the boon that allowed them to get more sexual pleasure than men.

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