India’s Supreme Court made a landmark ruling last year allowing women to enter the controversial Sabarimala shrine in India.
The five-judge bench ruled that keeping women out of the shrine located in the southern state of Kerala was discriminatory, a verdict that led to huge protests in India.
Despite the court ruling women who dared to enter the Sabarimala shrine were sent back and others were assaulted.
The court has now considered reviewing the ruling which definitely did not augur well for the Hindu devotees and the matter will now be heard by a larger bench.
The controversy about this shrine is due to the believe in Hinduism that menstruating women are unclean and bars them from participating in religious rituals.
However Sabarimala had a complete ban on all women between the age of 10 and 50 with many women choosing to voluntarily to stay away from the temple.
Most Hindu temples allow women to enter as long as they are not menstruating but Hindu devotees say ban on women entering Sabarimala is not about menstruation alone – it is also in keeping with the wish of the deity who is believed to have laid down clear rules about the pilgrimage to seek his blessings.
Every year, millions of male devotees trek up a steep hill, often barefoot, to visit the shrine. They also undertake a rigorous 41-day fast, abstaining from smoking, alcohol, meat, sex and contact with menstruating women before they begin the journey.
However Women’s rights campaigners have argued that this custom violates equality guaranteed under India’s constitution and further calling it a prejudice against women and their right to worship.