Kerala: Let experts decide on women in Sabarimala

Friday, February 8, 2008

Kerala: Let experts decide on women in Sabarimala

For all their atheist credentials, Marxists in Kerala seem loath to tread on matters of religious belief.

Wary of offending sentiments opposing the entry of women aged between 10 and 50 years into Sabarimala temple but keen to ward off the perception that it lacks the stomach to challenge the orthodoxy about rituals, CPM has tried to forge a way out of the dilemma by suggesting that the sensitive matter be left for a panel of experts on Hinduism and reformers to resolve.

Responding to a PIL brought by "Indian Young Lawyers Association" to challenge the revered tradition to keep the popular Sabarimala shrine off-limits for women, the CPM-led government has suggested that the proposed panel could suggest carving out a special session exclusively for women of all ages by reducing the penance period from the customary 41 days.

The proposed gender-based segregation militates against CPM's stated position, underlining the bind it finds itself in as it seeks to balance its political considerations with its professed stance on religion.

Its predicament is evident through the affidavit to the PIL asking for an end to the discrimination against women with regard to their fundamental right to worship.

Making a legally correct statement, the government said: "All persons are equally entitled to freedom of religion. All persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the Constitution gives right to worship to everyone equally. Hence, it is not fair to deny a section of women from entering the temple." That done, however, it disclaimed any intention to create " any controversy whatsoever".

Source : The Times Of India


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