Although the country’s constitution promises freedom of religion, interfering in its traditional practices may invite unrest among believers. This can be seen in the recent verdict of the Indian Supreme Court, regarding the Sabarimala temple ban. The ongoing agitations by various groups have caused an issue in the state of Kerala.
In the case of Sabarimala, I believe it is not a matter that relates to gender equality, rather it’s about a tradition that is attached to the shrine. The reality is that women are not banned from entry, instead the restrictions are for a certain age-group of girls. A court verdict cannot overturn traditions overnight, even if the age-old custom is arguable.
Every temple in India follows its own customs. The Supreme Court of India needs to think twice before implementing such verdicts. It can create unrest within a country and this is exactly what is happening in Kerala. Another important observation is that the civil society needs the maturity to embrace such a change, however, change is always difficult to get used to.
The state government should have waited and thoroughly examined the sentiments of the people before taking such a decision. The massive protests that have raged in Kerala have caused a lot of hassle. This was something that could have been easily avoided.
As the constitution of India was originally made many decades ago, a regular review of it should be the need of the hour. Ideally, not intervening in such customs, associated with a particular religion or section of society, should be the attitude of the court. Changes must happen but not in a rush, as it is vital that a mindset to embrace it prevails.
- The reader is a resident of Muscat, Oman