- Smriti Irani said everyone has right to pray, but not to desecrate
- She said this with reference to the Sabarimala temple entry row
- Ban on entry of women of menstruating age in Sabarimala ended last month
Everyone has the right to pray, but not to desecrate, Union Minister Smriti Irani today said in the middle of a debate over the ban on women of menstrual age entering Kerala's famous Sabarimala shrine and a Supreme Court order overturning it.
"I am nobody to speak of the Supreme Court verdict because I am a current serving cabinet minister... I believe I have the right to pray but I don't have the right to desecrate. And that is the difference that we need to recognise and respect," Smriti Irani, 42, said at an event in Mumbai called the Young Thinkers' Conference.
"...just plain common sense. Would you take sanitary napkins seeped in menstrual blood and walk into a friend's home? You could not. And would you think it is respectable to do the same thing when you are walking into the house of god?" questioned the minister.
She shared an incident when she had to wait outside a fire temple in Mumbai, with her son inside. "...What does that mean irrespective of whether I am a politician or a minister, because I have two Zoroastrian children and a Zoroastrian husband. I am made to stand outside. I will stand either on the road or sit in my car... When I took my newborn son (to a fire temple in Andheri), I had to give him at the temple, gave him to my husband, because I was shooed away and told don't stand here," she said.
The comments were seen in the context of reports that an activist trying to access the Sabarimala temple last week had carried used sanitary pads. The activist had emphatically denied it.
Smriti Irani, responding to the buzz on social media over her remarks, put out a series of tweets to - "comment on my comment," as she described it.
The Supreme Court last month ended a decades-old ban on women of menstruating age, or between 10 and 50 years, entering the Sabarimala shrine dedicated to Lord Ayyappa, a celibate god.
Despite the court ruling, no woman below 50 could enter the temple when it opened for five days last week, amid massive protests by priests and hundreds of devotees who refused to let go of the archaic tradition. Both the BJP and the Congress backed the protesters and demanded that Kerala's Left government come up with an ordinance or special order to override the Supreme Court order and restore the ban.