This article is written by Mehak Handa, a Second Year B.A. LLB (Hons.) student of Trinity Institute of Professional Studies, Dwarka, Delhi.
The famous temple Sabarimala is in controversy because it bans the entry of women from the age 10 to 50 years. This practice is here since so many years and now it has become their tradition to stop young girls from entering the temple and it’s not only about the Sabarimala temple, in India there are a lot of worship places where these types of traditions are being practiced since ages.
But the question is what our law says? We know that India is a democratic and secular country. Everyone is equal in the eye of law irrespective of their gender, race, caste and sex. Does our law degrade women on the basis of their sex, i.e., they bleed during menstruation? The answer is no! Our Constitution guarantees right to worship from Articles 25 to 28. Article 25 of the Indian Constitution states that Subject to public order, morality and health and to the other provisions of this Part, all persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practise and propagate religion and Right to worship in a temple is a fundamental right of every individual.
Brief facts of the case are- A group of five women lawyers challenged Rule 3(b) of the Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship (Authorization of Entry) Rules, 1965, which authorizes restriction on women “of menstruating age”. They moved the apex court after the Kerala HC upheld the centuries-old restriction, and ruled that only the “tantri (priest)” was empowered to decide on traditions. Senior Advocate Indira Jaising, who represented the petitioners, said the restrictions went against Articles 14, 15 and 17 of the Constitution. She argued that this custom is discriminatory in nature and it stigmatises women, and that women should be allowed to pray at the place of their choice. September 28, 2018- SC allowed women of all age groups to enter temple, stating that custom of barring women is violation of Art 25 (Clause 1) and Rule 3(b) of Kerala Hindu Places of Worship.
But now we know that menstruation is a big taboo in our country. Menstruation is the topic which our teachers taught us in eighth standard, and also, there were some kind of special movies only for Girls, not because it was in our course, but because it’s perspective was to educate the girls and develop their minds, that yes, menstruation is a natural process which is meant to be faced by girls! It’s interesting to see so much embarrassment, awkwardness, and shame around a human bodily function which is faced by half of the population at some point of life. Yet in the modern society, period blood is the most hidden blood. It is considered Impure. We don’t feel ashamed to keep our toilet paper openly in our bathrooms, but on the same side we make a tons of jokes on a woman who is holding a sanitary pad in her hand. Even after so many steps taken by the government or celebrities, most of us are still not open about our natural cycle in front of men!
Okay, so let me clear one thing to you, girls are not impure for these five days. No one has the right to call anyone pure or impure. It’s a healthy process for a female human body to stay fit. The blood, which is never seen by anyone except girls, which is considered to be the most impure blood, is actually made up of the same as the arterial blood. But still according to Indians, girls are not pure because of menstruation and they are not allowed to enter temples, kitchens and what not!
Our Constitution does not differ anyone on the basis of their gender then why our society does? Jeopardising only women from worshipping in Sabarimala , is a clear violation of article 25(1) of the Indian Constitution which constitutes an individual’s rights to practice, profess and propagate any religion of his/her choice without restrictions unless it is against notions of public order, morality and health, and article 15(1) of the constitution which prohibits states from indulging in any practices that discriminates citizens on ground of religion , race , caste , sex , place of birth.
According to NHFS, around 88% of Indian women don’t use sanitary pads. 43% of Indian women doesn’t have access to sanitary pads, while 36% felt uncomfortable in buying them with other customers around! We live in such a hypocrite country where female goddesses are worshiped throughout the month, and of course, they are pure, but girls are not allowed to enter a temple when they are on their cycle, because they are considered to be impure! Beliefs and customs of devotees can never be altered through a judicial process since the change should stem from within oneself and so long as that does not happen, we are likely to see religious issues being repeatedly taken to court on charges of violating principles of fairness and non-discrimination. But at least we can take a stand for ourselves and should make every person of this country to respect female and their bodies.
“Menstruation is not a curse, it’s a blessing from almighty to all the gorgeous women.”