New Delhi: Kerala's Sabarimala temple's ban on women was questioned today by the Supreme Court, which said that Hindu scriptures Vedas and Upanishads do not discriminate between men and women.
- Supreme Court questions Sabarimala ban on women, cites Hindu scriptures
- SC asks temple board: Is spirituality a domain of only men?
- SC is hearing an appeal against ban on menstruating women at temple
"In the Vedas, Upanishads or scriptures there is no discrimination between and men and women. This has cropped up historically," the court said.
"Is spirituality a domain of only men? Are women incapable of spirituality?"
The court is hearing a petition challenging the ban on women between 10 and 50 entering the ancient temple dedicated to Lord Ayyappa.
"We are not taking a narrow view. We want to strike a constitutional balance between the right to equality and the right to religious practice. The temple is a religious phenomenon and its functions must come within parameters," the court said.
The temple board lawyer KK Venugopal argued, the practice was in place for 1000 years, so why dig it up now? "The whole of Sabarimala hill is sanctified and women can't enter," he said. The temple claims that women who menstruate are impure and must not be given access to the hilltop shrine.
The court asked the temple board and the state government to give details on when the discrimination began at the temple and the historical reasons.
"This discrimination will be tested on the parameters of constitutional equality and right to custom and religious practices," the court said.
The temple has six weeks to respond.
In November, the head of the temple's board, Prayar Gopalakrishnan, created a huge controversy by stating that women would be able to access the temple after a machine is created that would function like a body scanner to determine which women were "pure" enough to make the cut.