Religion is a funny thing. I have nothing against God. I love God, everyone’s God. I believe in divinity and miracles. I know there is someone above who answers prayers. Point being, I love God, you call him/her by your name, I call him/her by my name. It is just his Fan club that I am having trouble with. I mean Gods come in all shape and sizes, they may have family, they may be celibate. But, they are one. However, the manner in which you worship them varies in Hinduism. The denomination is independent of religion. Considering that they are deified in human form, therefore, their worship is very different. Thus, as a man in this patriarchal misogynist society, there will be fewer restrictions placed upon you whereas as a woman you will face numerous restrictions, to the extent that some Gods will be kept virtually off limit. Because, God forbid, you as a woman may become powerful if God is happy with you and grants you your wish. It is immaterial what wish it is, however.
I have been following Sabarimala arguments with some zealous enthusiasm. Well, you can say that the neo-feminist in me is finding it hard to digest a lot of points there. To begin with, the whole argument about a woman and her impurity being judged due to menstruation, leaves me with that sudden sinking feeling. Since childhood, we have been told that during menstruation don’t touch God, go to temple or do pooja because you will make the God impure. Primarily, the life-giving function of a woman was considered impure. She is made to feel guilty about it for her entire fertile years. And now the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India is asked to decide whether or not a woman (10-50 years of age) can enter a temple since ‘she cannot stay pure’ for all of 41 days, considering that the God is celibate.
Sometimes, the basic sense of human being is lost behind the customs that they are made to follow. I understand the connotation of customary law. But what I don’t understand is why it is necessary that such wrong customs are being argued upon in the highest Court of the country, being tested against the constitutional rights bestowed upon us. But, when you go through the arguments posed by the best lawyers in the country, the lawyer in me realizes that there is always a different way of looking at customs. Like it was submitted before the bench that not all exclusion is discrimination. I agree on that. I agree to the fact that many religions do not allow the entry of women in their place of worship, menstruating or not. Many temples in India do not allow the entry of men. In fact the menstruating Goddess Kamakhya Devi’s temple does not allow a menstruating woman.
As the arguments on Sabarimala enter seventh day before the Constitutional Bench, it is to be seen whether Lord Ayyappa as a juristic person, who pays taxes, can demand his constitutional right under Articles 21, 25 and 26? Whether the Lord has right to privacy? Whether the Essentiality test and judges assuming theological role is called for? Justice Chandrachud’s opinion that the test should be limited to a practice subscribing to the Constitution irrespective of whether it is essential or not, is the correct proposition. To sum it, Justice Nariman rightly observed, ‘You have a right, subject to other person’s right, subject to Part III and subject to laws made.’ I am waiting with bated breath on what the Constitution Bench decides. I want to know who wins, the lawyer in me or the woman in me?
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