NEW DELHI, India
India’s top court has lifted a ban that prevented women and girls between the age of 10 and 50 from entering a prominent Hindu temple in the southern state of Kerala.
The temple attracts tens of millions of pilgrims every year.
According to authorities at the Sabarimala temple, the ban was rooted in a centuries-old tradition and is essential to the rites related to the temple’s chief deity, Ayyappan.
The old traditions which are still upheld in some Hindu communities, menstruating women are regarded as unclean, leading to restrictions and in a few cases outright bans on women of child-bearing age from entering certain places.
Lifting the ban, the Chief Justice of India said “restrictions put by Sabarimala temple can’t be held as essential religious practice”.
“No physiological and biological factor can be given legitimacy if it does not pass the test of conditionality,” Justice Dipak Misra said in the judgment.
It is the latest in a series of controversial judgments by India’s Supreme Court concerning some of the most sensitive issues in Indian society.