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SC: Why Compel Deity To See Women?

Why should women compel the Sabarimala deity to grant them darshan when the deity does not want to as per tradition, the Supreme Court asked on Monday. The question popped up during a half-day hearing of a petition filed against the ban on women of a certain age from entering and worshipping in the famous Sabarimala temple in Kerala where a celibate deity presides.

Senior advocate and amicus curiae Raju Ramachandran was arguing before a Bench of Justices Dipak Misra, V. Gopala Gowda and Kurian Joseph that a ban on women worshipping a deity just because of their biology was detrimental to their dignity.

He said any other morality, including an institutional one based on tradition that access to worship for women aged between 10 and 55 at Sabarimala temple would “disturb” the celibate deity, was subservient to constitutional morality that there should not be discrimination in the name of gender, sex, caste, etc.

Mr. Ramachandran said it was a facile argument to say that only women of a certain age were banned entry. The ban affected women during their most active years and thus had the impact of discriminating against women as a class. He submitted that women could worship Lord Ayyappa at any other shrine except Sabarimala.

At this point, Justice Kurian suddenly asked: “Why do you worship?” To this, Mr. Ramachandran replied that it was for getting blessings and to say thanks. The second part of saying thanks is corollary to the first part — blessings. Only if you get the first will you say the second,” Justice Kurian remarked.

Justice Kurian then went on to ask: “But here if the deity says 'I don't want to see you', why do you compel Him to see you? If the deity does not want to be pleased, why do you compel Him to be pleased?”

Mr. Raju Ramachandran responded that the notion of the deity wanting to keep aloof from women worshippers of a certain age was merely an “interpretation created by those who have managed the temple.”

Protected by Constitution:- “If I, a woman, have faith. If I want to worship. I must have access to see Him... that part is protected by the Constitution irrespective of sex, gender, caste or biological phenomena,” Mr. Ramachandran said.

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