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Day 42 – Q 2.What are your views on the Sabarimala temple controversy? Should equal rights for women be given precedence over age old tradition? Substantiate.

2. What are your views on the Sabarimala temple controversy? Should equal rights for women be given precedence over age old tradition? Substantiate. 

सबरीमाला मंदिर विवाद पर आपके क्या विचार हैं? क्या सदियों पुरानी परंपरा पर महिलाओं को समान अधिकार दिया जाना चाहिए? पुष्टी करें।


Sabarimala Temple controversy is all about the conflict between tradition and women rights. The shrine at Sabarimala is an ancient temple of Ayyappan, worshipped as a ‘Naishtika Bramhachari’ or a celibate for life. As per traditions and customs, women between 10 and 50 years of age were not allowed to enter into Sabarimala Temple.


The Supreme Court verdict paved the way for the entry of women of all ages into the Ayyappa temple at Sabarimala in Kerala.

The five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice of India, in its 4:1 verdict, said banning the entry of women into the shrine is gender discrimination and the practice violates the rights of Hindu women. 

Supreme Court view on Sabarimala temple

  • Religion is a way of life basically to link life with divinity.
  • The court observed that it can’t be oblivious to the fact of the case that a class of women is disallowed due to physiological reasons (menstruation).
  • Devotion cannot be subjected to discrimination and patriarchal notion cannot be allowed to trump equality in devotion.

Dissenting view of Justice Indu Malhotra

  • Issues which have deep religious connotation should not be tinkered with to maintain a secular atmosphere in the country.
  • Essential religious practice must be decided by religious community, not the court.
  • Religious freedom is presence of religious institution rather than individual rights.

Equal rights for women should be given precedence over age old tradition

  • Preventing women from entering the places of worship goes against articles 14, 15, 19, and 25 of the Indian constitution, which deal with the right to equality, the right against discrimination based on gender, freedom of movement and freedom of religion.
  • Barring them access to the inner sanctum of the shrine violated their fundamental right under Article 25(1) to freely practice their religion.
  • Right to manage its own religious affairs under Article 26(1) cannot “override the right to practice religion itself”, as Article 26 cannot be seen to overrule the right to practice one’s religion as guaranteed under the Constitution of India.
  • Restricting the entry of women into places of worship is one of the ways of imposing patriarchy. Often the restrictions are based on patriarchy and not religion.
  • Banning entry to the temple is discriminatory since it subverts the idea of everyone being equal to God.
  • In April 2016, the Shani Shingnapur temple, which had barred women from entering its core area for over 400 years, allowed women to pray inside the temple following the court’s orders.

Equal rights for women should not be given precedence over age old tradition

  • Referring to the presiding deity Lord Ayyappa as a Naishtika Bramhachari, many point out that it is the celibate nature of the deity that forms the basis of the practice and not misogyny.
  • Sabarimala was a separate religious cult with its own rules.
  • Article 15 of the Constitution does not apply to religious institutions. Article 15(2) provides citizens with the right to access to places such as hotels, shops and so on but nowhere does it mention public temples.
  • Such traditions are protected by Article 25(1).
  • Article 25(2) pertains to only secular aspects and it is only pertaining to social issues, not gender or religious-based issues.


The main issue is not an entry, but equality. The religious exclusion has a public character, and that it is not just an issue of a sacred tradition but one of the civil rights and material and symbolic equality.

Beliefs and customs of devotees cannot be changed through a judicial process. The reforms should come from within the society. So long as that does not happen, we are likely to see religious issues being repeatedly taken to court.

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