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.

Just Posted

Let the Games begin!

Team Alberta takes home gold and silver in speed skating on day one

‘Mitts don’t just warm hands. They warm hearts’: Mitts for Many Program launches

Donate new or lightly used mittens to bin in the Great Hall of the Gary W. Harris Centre

WATCH: Historic night in Red Deer as 2019 Canada Winter Games kicks off

Star-studded Opening Ceremony welcomes athletes from across Canada

Athletes’ medals unveiled at the official opening of 2019 Canada Winter Games

Medals depict Central Alberta landscape and pay tribute to First Nations

Red Deer RCMP arrest man after vehicle theft from dealership

Police were able to disable the SUV with assistance from the built-in vehicle assistance system

Fashion Fridays: Up your beauty game

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Ontario police field complaints over Amber Alert for missing girl, 11, found dead

Some said the Amber Alert issued late Thursday for Riya Rajkumar disrupted their sleep

LOCATED: Innisfail RCMP looking for missing woman

Amanda Kucher was last seen at the Innisfail 7-Eleven on Feb. 15

Red Deer College transforms into Athletes’ Village

Red Deer College’s campus will be home for the athletes during the 2019 Canada Winter Games

Alberta minor hockey team, slammed for Indigenous dance video, forfeits season

Parents say season was too dangerous to finish because the team has been threatened

Trump officially declares national emergency to build border wall

President plans to siphon billions from federal military construction and counterdrug efforts

Father to be charged with first-degree murder in Amber Alert case

11-year-old Riya Rajkumar was found dead in her father’s home in Brampton, Ontario

Red Deer man loses car after being caught twice driving with suspended licence

The Ponoka Integrated Traffic Unit ticketed the man in December and on Valentine’s Day

January home sales were weakest since 2015, average national price falls: CREA

CREA says the national average price for all types of residential properties sold in January was $455,000

Most Read