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Published On: Thu, Jul 19th, 2018

“Women Can’t Do 41-Day Penance,” Sabarimala Board Tells Top Court

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aim_bn_3_1310040923NEW DELHI : The Sabarimala temple board told the Supreme Court on Thursday that “there is no restriction on caste or religion to enter Ayyappa temple.” The reason why women are restricted is because they “can’t do” the tough 41-day penance. Yesterday, a five-judge bench of the Supreme Court, while hearing petitions on allowing women at Sabarimala, said banning entry of women at the temple is unconstitutional.
The Ayyappa temple at Sabarimala prohibits menstruating women between 10 and 50 years of age from entering its premises. The temple board has even made it mandatory for women to provide age proof before they are allowed.

Senior lawyer Abishek Manu Singhvi, representing the temple board argued that “unlike other temples, Muslims and Christians can enter the Ayyappa temple. The idea is not to exclude but it is a concept… it is a broad belief.”There are thousands of Ayyappa temples across the country but the restriction is only at Sabarimala, and it is a “bonafide historical belief… a collective belief among Ayyappa devotees,” Mr Singhvi told the court.
The Supreme Court bench headed by the Chief Justice Dipak Misra said, “By imposing an impossible condition of 41-day penance on women you (Board) are trying to do indirectly something, which you can’t do directly.”

“If somebody stops menstruating at 46, why should she be barred …the notification barring women should have been no child-bearing woman instead of prescribing the age,” said Justice Rohington Nariman also part of the top court bench hearing the case.”Every woman is the creation of God and why should there be discrimination against them in employment or worship,” said Justice DY Chandrachud.Senior Supreme Court lawyer, Indira Jaising, one of the petitioners in the case, argued that worshipping is one’s own right.
In October last year, the top court referred the issue to the Constitution bench, framing five “significant” questions, the chief of which was whether the ban amounts to discrimination against women and violates their Constitutional rights.The arguments in the case will resume on July 24.ndtv.

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