Does women has the right to pray?

Women climbing up stairs on Matangesvara temple. Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh, India

Do we need to allow and follow the age old traditions  of not allowing women to offer her prayers in a sanctum santorum. It is widely believed that  the presence of women  near to the deity is considered as   impure, So  it became an age old practice to  deny them  entry into certain temples in India purely on the logic that women menstruate, so considered  them impure to visit the temple to offer her prayers  to  the deity. So naturally the question  of “Equality before the law “ comes to fore, if the constitution says that there shouldn’t be any discrimination on the basis of Sex, both male and female is equal before the law, also enjoys equal rights. So if that is the case then women should be allowed to visit the temple like men do. But most of the time discussion revolves around age-old tradition and practices as the sole reason which still disallows women to enter the temple.  So the next question  which comes to the mind is Should we allow the age old tradition to supersede the fundamental rights enshrined in our constitution is a something which needs to discuss seriously, a consensus needs to be evolved in the coming years. Constitutionally or as per the law of the land, if women want to visit  a temple  to offer her prayers to the deity, she should be  legally allowed  to do so. The Most visible disconnect which is largely there in our Hindu culture, we know that we  worship goddess like Saraswati, Kali & Parvathi  then why such discrimination to women by not permitting them to worship the deity in Sabarimala, one of the major temple in south India, like this certain temples in India don’t permit women to enter.

Historically  over many centuries  the  patriarchal  system of society  was   male dominated, so to have a control over the women by subjugating them  with  several restrictions, forced  them to lead an inferior  life when compared  to men. The ulterior motive to coin such tradition or practices was  to put women under men’s control. The effective or easier way is to impose certain restrictions in the name of traditions. But who framed  that tradition? it is clear that the  male dominated population was the architect of such illogical practices. But in Hindu philosophy Vedas are considered as the most divine, all prevailing collection of wisdom where such restrictive practices of  gender discrimination   could never be found.  The section of the people who raise their voices against permitting the women to enter the temple is not in the position to give convincing reasons to deny the permission, all they could say was “Age-old Tradition”. Same applies to those days when the sathi system was in practice  So  as a society it’s clearly a matter of collective consciousness to  find a reasonable solution to this  unending confusion to  allow women the permission into the temple.

We have reached a situation where the society especially the temple administration, important people who represent those bodies sit and revisit those traditional practices. We cannot keep on denying women’s right to worship, Supreme court of the land has asked to review the practices, sought the reasons to deny their permission. The society and its practices needs to get evolved with time, if their general demand from women’s community on this issue, I think the competent authorities cannot remain oblivious to the general mood, keep on harping back to the past tradition, practices& rituals as the only reason for the continued stand on denying  them the  permission . Most of the practices which have been followed over centuries might be suited to those days. Time has come to change and review these primitive traditions, allow the women the equal rights to worship as men. Our culture of Sanatana dharma represents the entire worldview, way of life and with a coherent and rational view of reality. So let’s all follow and practice that hindu dharma by  becoming  ideal to other religions also.


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