Women across India have been restricted entry into the inner sanctums of various temples and mosques based on the menstruation taboo or reasons like ‘they distract the eternally celibate Gods’. The Haji Ali Durgah in Mumbai, Sabarimala’s Lord Ayyappa Temple, Patbausi Satra in Assam and the Lord Kartikeya Temple in Pushkar are just a few examples of places that implement this unreasonable restriction.
In a country like ours, where tradition and culture are so deeply rooted into our society, putting restrictions on women to follow their faith on the basis of a natural bodily process puts an unhealthy filter on how society views menstruating women. They are often considered ‘filthy’ or ‘dirty’ and are kept from performing routine tasks like going to temples or entering their kitchens. So why do women have to own up to something they don’t have an alternative for? Why should women be held accountable for being ‘temptations’ for celibate gods?
While many women’s organizations and activists are fighting for women’s rights to freely practice their faith, the battle becomes harder when many women support this idea too. Many religious leaders, when arguing to keep these restrictions in place, say that a lot of women support the tradition of not entering temples as a sign of respect to the gods and consider themselves the keepers of this age-old practice. Even if these restrictions are lifted, many women might refuse to enter the temples in the fear of angering the Gods.
After years of battling this orthodox mindset, the courts have intervened. The Supreme Court has appointed a Constitutional Bench to come up with a long-term solution to this issue. Let’s hope they decide to remove these restrictions and grant the women this basic fundamental right.