Temple belongs to public,not priest:All you need to know about Sabarimala Temple issue

What is Important?UPSC perspective:Prelims: Location & Fundamental rights involvedMains:Temple entry- ban & need for revival
Non-UPSC perspective:Location

Why in News?

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Tuesday lambasted Kandararu Rajivararu, tantri of the Sabarimala temple, for threatening to close the doors of the sanctum if women of childbearing age entered the place of worship as allowed by the Supreme Court.


*The legend has it that the temple deity Ayyappa followed celibacy all through his life.
*Therefore, women devotees of menstruating age are considered “impure” by supporters of the ban and are prohibited from entering the temple, on the pretext that they would disturb the celibacy of the deity.
*The unique and site-specific tradition also kept it outside the purview of the historic temple entry protests.
*The Travancore Devaswom Board is thus likely to file a review petition after securing support from other religious heads.

About Sabarimala:

*Sabarimala is a Hindu pilgrimage centre located at the Periyar Tiger Reserve in the Western Ghat mountain ranges of Pathanamthitta District, Perunad grama panchayat in Kerala.
*The Sabarimala shrine is an ancient Hindu temple of Lord Ayyappan, who is also known as sasta or Dharmasasta.
*The temple is a prominent pilgrimage site among the Hindu devotees in the state of Kerala.
*Sabarimala is the second largest seasonal pilgrimage after the Islamic holy site of Mecca in Saudi Arabia.An estimated 3.5 crore Hindu pilgrims visited the shrine last year.
Art. 25, 26 put through questions
*The judgment raises several thorny questions.
*It questions the court’s authority to decide ethical choices made by a community of believers.
*It raises questions to judge the integrity behind the religious practices and whether they susceptible to conventional constitutional standards of justice and equality.
The scope of Article 26
*The respondents in favor of entry ban justified the ban on entry of women chiefly at two levels.
*First, the temple, they argued, enjoyed denominational status under Article 26 of the Constitution, which allowed it to determine the manner in which it managed its religious affairs.
*Second, prohibiting women of menstruating age is supported by the temple’s long-honoured custom for the deity’s celibacy concern.
*Further ban was supported by Rule 3(b) of the Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship (Authorisation of Entry) Rules, 1965.
*The court repudiated the validity of Rule 3(b), which, it said is at the core of discrimination.

Judging the rationality of faith

*The judgment leaves us wondering how far the right to freedom of religion can really extend.
*And to what extent a group’s collective liberty can influence an individual’s equal right to freedom of religion.
*The court must look beyond the essential practices doctrine and examine claims by applying a principle of “anti-exclusion”.
*Where a religious practice causes the exclusion of individuals impairing the dignity or hampers the access to basic goods of individuals, the over-arching values of a liberal Constitution must come to picture.

Way forward

*When a religious practice goes so far as to deny women equal status in society and when notions of purity and pollution are employed to perpetuate discrimination, the Constitutional mandate must prevail.
*The real test is to assess whether an exclusion founded on religious belief, essential or otherwise, encroaches on a person’s basic right to dignity.
*Discrimination couched as plurality cannot be allowed to undermine the Constitution’s basic “quest for equality”.

Temple belongs to public,not priest:All you need to know about Sabarimala Temple issue Temple belongs to public,not priest:All you need to know about Sabarimala Temple issue Reviewed by The Hindu Current Affairs on October 24, 2018 Rating: 5

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