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Faith v/S Fundamental Right: The Politics of Sabarimala Controversy


· Anjana Ranjith Tata Institute of Social Sciences (Delhi, India)


07/29 | 09:20-09:40 UTC+2/CEST


The recent judgement of the Supreme Court lifting ban on the entry of women of menstrual age in Sabarimala has spurred various debates, violence and protests. It is a matter of faith versus fundamental right. What is important to note is that women’s entry was banned formally only in 1991 by the Kerala High Court. According to the judgement of the Supreme Court, this act of restricting women on the basis of their mensmenstrual status was against the very spirit of the constitution which guarantees equality to all its citizens. What guided this exclusion was the idea of pollution that stigmatized menstruation as impure that was sanctioned by the Hindu scriptures. As a result of this the practices that legitimise menstrual taboos, through the notions of “purity and pollution,” limit the ability of menstruating women to attain the freedom of movement, the right to education and the right of entry to places of worship, and eventually, their access to the public sphere is lost.The RSS had always found it difficult to make an entry into Kerala politics because of the unique historical context of the formation of the state and its politics.The recent problematizing of the issue by RSS shows its strategy to make Sabarimala a temple for Hindus only. Therefore the objectives of the paper are as follows: to make historical analysis of contesting perspectives on the identity of the deity worshipped in order to examine what practices existed in the past, and what changed and why it changed; To make a historical analysis of the practices that existed including restrictions on women entry in the light if gender equality;To analyse the problematizing of the issue by political parties.