Indian Politics · Narendra Modi · Politics · Selective Outrage

Political Tussle On Women Entry in Temples

While worrying ourselves over gender discrimination at the abode of gods, we have got into smart trap of degrading the culture, demeaning Hindu religion and getting into a non-issue of matter.  With this topic, we have brought the gods down to earth, dissected them on TV panels and hauled them to courts.

Lets pause for a moment and understand there is a protest drama in the country like India and against religion like Hinduism where we worship Goddesses as significantly as Gods. And there are special ceremonies where Kumarikas are honored, married women are honored.

Religious traditions are not immutable and should be altered with changing times. Sanatan Dharma moved away from outdated traditions like Sati parampara. However challenging and forcing to change a tradition without understanding the reason behind that will be stupidity and most of the people are currently doing the same in India. Such people get fooled by people who preach human rights, equality and conveniently ensure that nobody will challenge the topic logically! Attacking Hindu religion is a sure fire ticket to fame considering the largely leftist media’s hostile attitude towards the Hindus, especially since Mr Modi took office in 2014.

The famous British mountaineer George Mallory is supposed to have replied the question “why did you want to climb Mt Everest?” with a cryptic “because it’s there”. Unfortunately the attitude that symbolized human spirit and never say die attitude in a mountaineer is quickly becoming bane of the civilised society in the 21st century. The group of women set to “storm” (helicopter on standby!) the Shani Shingnapur temple are the latest example of this excessive behaviour. None of them have to fear for blowbacks of this misadventure since they are offending people from the most peaceful religion. You can’t even imagine such storming into any Dhargah or Vatican.

There have been political protests disguised as public protests and legal battles to gain entry for women in two Hindu places of worship: One is Lord Ayyappa Temple in Sabarimala, Kerala and another is Lord Shani Temple in Shingnapur, Maharashta.

Is true that women are not allowed in these two temples? No, it is an absolute lie! Women are allowed in Lord Shani Temple but not in sanctum sanctorum. Lord Ayyappa Temple has prohibited the entry of females from age group of 10-50 years. Now let’s understand why these traditions or restrictions are followed.

Shani Shinganapur:

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Shani-Shingnapur is 75 km away from the famous Shirdi pilgrimage centre in Western Maharashtra. It became a national pilgrimage centre often clubbed with Shirdi to make it into a twin holiday package for tourists from across the country.

The deity of Lord Shani, a 56-inch black rock pillar is swayambhu idol, meaning that it regenerated on its own from the Earth. There is no particular origin site for the idols of Shani deva.  The deity of Lord Shani is on an open platform and so the canopy of this sanctum sanctorum is literally the open sky as the temple does not need and can’t have walls or roof. According to the hard core centuries-old beliefs of the villagers, there is no need of man-made security as Lord Shani is the protector. Hence, the houses of the 3,500-odd villagers are bereft of doors and there is no locking system.

Mustard oil is the most loved offering that Shani Dev accepts. The oil can be put only by men as the effect of Shani Dev’s wrath is considered to be less on women. The wrath of Shani Devta destroys the life, health, wealth and reputation of a man. Women are largely unaffected from the effects of Shani Dev.

Shani Dev is the son of Lord Surya, the eternal source of Energy. Shani Dev is born from Chaya, the Shadow. He has extreme features, almost opposite to that of the Sun God. Women worship Sun God for potency, fertility and longevity of life for the husband. Shani Dev neutralizes the blessing from the Sun God. By going close to Shani Dev’s idols, women may inflect themselves with irreversible effects.

As per scriptures, the chastity of women is very delicate. It can be maligned even by the moonlight. Women prefer to stay away from Shani Dev’s idol as a mark of respect, just like the Indian women have for their elders. It is said that touching Shani Dev’s idol during pregnancy is bad for the foetus. Nobody visits theShani temple during the prosperous times. He is appeased only when the Navgraha moves treacherously into the horoscope and transforms prosperity into destruction of wealth and health leading to poverty and loss of reputation. If women are not affected, their husbands and sons are likely to be affected. Shani Dev is seen as one of the most chivalrous Gods who worships every woman as his Mother. Hence, it is preached that only males should pour oil in Shani temples.

So to conclude it is mythological belief for thousands of years that women should not enter sanctum sanctorum of Shani temple however they can pray and worship. Shinganapur temple is not unique Shani temple in the world in this regard. However being one of the famous Shani Temple, activists aiming for fame are targeting it.

Women have worshiped in the past and below few snaps will prove that.

Lord Ayyappa Temple:

If you ask me “Who placed the restrictions on women entering the temple?”  I would say Ayappa himself! According to the puranas, Ayappa was born to destroy a female demon who, thanks to a boon, could only be vanquished by a child born of both Shiva and Vishnu. When Ayappa fulfils his destiny by killing her, a beautiful woman emerges from the body. She had been cursed to live as a demon, but her killing reversed the curse. Now free, she asks Ayappa to marry her. He refuses, explaining to her that his mission is to go to Sabarimala where he would answer the prayers of his devotees. However, he assures her, he will marry her when kanni-swamis (first-time devotees) stop coming to Sabarimala. She now sits and waits for him at a neighbouring shrine near the main temple and is worshipped as Malikapurathamma. With hundreds of thousands of new devotees pouring in every year, hers will be a long wait.

And that is why women do not go to Sabarimala. It is partly out of empathy for Malikapurathamma and her eternal wait and it’s also out of respect for Ayappa’s commitment to answer the prayers of his devotees. Since he is celibate, he should not be distracted. For hundreds of years, devotees had bought into this story. It has nothing to do with menstruation or being unclean. Anyone who goes to Sabarimala knows that.

Another reason: Lord Ayyappan is a chronic bachelor or “brahmachari”. He took a vow of celibacy due to which women are not allowed into the premises.

Another reason: The Sabarimala pilgrimage ritual is also very stringent and difficult. It involves 41 days of celibacy, cooking one’s own food, wearing all black, not wearing footwear, not trimming or shaving body hair and nails and wearing the sacred garland (mala). In modern times, the temple premises and the roads leading to it have been cleared out. But in the past, it was notorious for wild animals, thorny and stony paths and was all in all a very arduous journey.

Another reason mentioned by a women from Kerala: Women in the menstrual age cannot complete the 41 day mandala vrat because of their monthly cycle. Even if women are permitted by the court, the chances are high that they won’t be able to complete the journey on foot. Especially if the monthly cycle starts while on pilgrimage, it will weaken the body. They need to rest and walking uphill would be very difficult. Overall, its better to wait until the age is past 50. Also there are several Lord Ayyappa temples that you can visit otherwise. Go there when you can. Senior advocate K K Venugopal, appearing for Kerala in the Supreme Court on the issue, said the women, who have not attained menopause, cannot preserve the purity during the religious journey to the temple, located on a hilltop, which usually spans 41 days.

The irony is that the people who have taken this issue to the Supreme Court probably do not believe in the backstory. If they did, they wouldn’t challenge it. Even if the court lifted restrictions, women who believe in the deity will not be queuing up to go. This is, ultimately, all about faith.

Ok now if you ask me if only these two Hindu religious places bar women from entering into some sections, the answer is NO. Here is detailed answer:

Other Religious Places That STILL Don’t Allow Women

Haji Ali Dargah:

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Most of the mosques do not allow women to enter where the holy shrine is situated. Haji Ali Dargah in Mumbai India had previously allowed the entry of women, however in the year 2012, a fatwa was released and women are no longer allowed to enter the inner sanctum of the Dargah because they’d seen just ONE woman in “inappropriate clothing”. 3 years later, they seem to have revealed the real reason why women aren’t allowed – to save them from perverts, while also protecting the area from a “big aspect: that a woman can at any time have menstrual periods”

“Entry of women in close proximity of grave of a male Muslim saint is a grievous sin in Islam,” the trustees of the iconic Haji Ali Dargah told the Bombay High Court on October 20, 2015.

Hearing a petition, the HC had earlier asked the trustees of the Dargah, which houses the tomb of the 15th century Sufi saint Haji Ali, to reconsider its rules which bar women’s entry into the ‘sanctum sanctorum’. “The trustees were unanimous on the point that entry of women in close proximity of a grave of male Muslim saint is a grievous sin as per Islam and as such governed by Constitution law and particularly Article 26 of the Constitution, which confers upon the Trust a fundamental right to manage its own affairs of religion and as such interference is uncalled for by any third agency,” a letter from the Dargah trust to the High Court bench said.

This means in simple words that the Dargah trust asked High Court not to intervene into its affair. Can these protestors in Shinganapur look into this please?

Prefer not to interfere, era of intolerance, says Bombay High Court Justice V M Kanade on 17th November 2015 on this case. The same judiciary on Sabarimala: “The temple cannot prohibit entry (women), except on the basis of religion. Unless you have a constitutional right, you cannot prohibit entry. Anyway, we will examine it on 8 February,” a bench of Justices Dipak Misra and N V Ramana said. Do you see the contrast? Even by Judiciary?

Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple: It allows women to enter and pray, but they can’t enter the temple vault to do inventory of the riches.

Patbausi Satra, Assam: 500 year old tradition of not allowing women entering the sanctum sanctorum of the Hindu monastery in Assam, one of many formed by 16th century saint philosopher Srimanta Sankardeva, was broken by Assam Governor J.B. Patnaik who took a group of women into the temple.

Jama Masjid : India’s largest mosque, the Jama Masjid is okay with women, but still has some odd rules. Women can’t enter the minarets without a male accompanying them, and they are not allowed to enter the mosque after Maghrib prayers.

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Lord Kartikeya Temple, Pushkar: According to legend, women entering the temple will be cursed instead of getting blessed.  As per the legend when Lord Kartikeya was doing meditation, Lord Indra gets jealous that Brahma might give him more power than himself. So he plans to distract Lord Kartikeya by sending the most beautiful Apsaras. Lord Kartikeya gets angry and curses that any woman who comes to his place to distract him from his meditation shall turn into stone. In time, it has become a belief that women coming to visit Pushkar might get cursed instead of being blessed.

The protesting women to gain entry in Shinganapur or Sabrimala should try this out by gaining entry in Lord Kartikeya Temple to see if they all get cursed or blessed! Are you ready for challenge?

Jain Temple, Ranakpur: It does not allow menstuating women to enter.

Temples which allow only women to enter:

Attukal Temple: There is a festival where only women are allowed. It is the single largest women alone gathering in the human history.

There are many Bhagavathi temple in Kerala and deep south of Tamil Nadu where women does pooja and men are not allowed to enter or perform pooja.

Other prominent places in the world where women are not allowed.

Burning Tree Club, Bethesda: This golf course was built as a place for relaxation for politics in the U.S. Every president and Supreme Court Justice has honorary membership here, yet no woman is allowed to enter is, despite of high designations. The first time a woman entered this golf club is in 1981, when Sandra Day O’Cornor became the first female Supreme Court Justice.

Voting Booths in Saudi Arabia and Vatican City:  Women have very limited rights in Saudi Arabia. In fact, women are not even allowed to drive and do not have the liberty to step out of the house without a male family member escorting them. Voting booths in this country has never seen a woman as women are not allowed to vote. As far as the Vatican City goes, only men under the age of 80 are allowed to be cardinals. This cancels the need for women to vote at all.

Tour De France: It is a cycling competition held annually in France. Not only are women not allowed to participate in this sport, but there is no other provision made for women to compete at all. The only women’s competition was stopped in the year 2009.

Soccer Stadiums, Iran: The writing on the picture of the Azadi Soccer Stadium in Iran translates to “Freedom”, yet ironically, women are not allowed to enter the stadium at all.

Mount Omine- Japan: It is one of the largest mountains in Japan and is home to Buddhist monasteries that are over 1300 years years old. However, women are not allowed to go beyond a further point for religious reasons.

Mount Athos- Greece:  It is located at the coast of Greece. Several monks practice at this destination in ancient and traditional monasteries. The monks here practice celibacy and interaction with women is said to make it tougher for them, hence not permitting women to visit the island.

Have we seen any protest to gain entry for women in these places? No, then why are we seeing this drama in India? Guess what after beef, Dadri, Award Wapasi the pseudo secular, leftist media and opposition needs new topic to divert the public attention from progress in the country and good work undertaken by Modi government and create communal tensions. The activists in Shinganapur have been Congress workers for a long so the link is established well to explain what’s happening and why.

Is faith compromised by denying entry or is it a political drama?

In fact each village, town or city in India has at least one temple. So more than 638,000 villages, more than 5,100 towns and over 380 urban agglomerations have at least one temple. So why only these 2 temples are targeted? Why only Hindu places of worship are targeted? So is there inconvenience to visit these temples with no restriction on entry? Or is it convenience to create a issue and blame a particular religion?

Here is the proof that this is not protest for equal rights for women but a political stunt: https://storify.com/drgpradhan/congress-dirty-trickes

Tripti Desai who is leading this protest is congress worker! Does it ring a bell?

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History was created at the over 500-year-old Shani Shingnapur temple town in Ahmednagar district when a 40-year-old housewife Anita Shetye assumed charge as Chairperson of the Shani Shingnapur temple trust. And the lady president has no objection with the practice of not allowing women near the deity but allowed to enter the temple and do puja. Still why the loaned protectors from Pune and Mumbai are playing this drama? Who is the director?

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References:

http://www.firstpost.com/india/why-women-are-barred-from-sabarimala-its-not-because-they-are-unclean-2583694.html

http://indiafacts.org/stormtroopers-at-shani-shingnapur/

https://storify.com/drgpradhan/shani-shingnapur-protest-the-truth

Thanks, But No Thanks – The Tokenism Of Appointing A Woman As Head Of Shani Temple.

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