Gender Stereotyping in Places of Worship

Bangalore City National State

Although some temples try breaking the discrimination against women.

Indian women have been on the receiving end of gender stereotyping and discrimination since ages. Last year, the media talked a lot about the Sabarimala temple and how the women were banned from entering the temple. This has led to wide-scale protests and violence near the temple.

The Sabarimala temple has banned the entry of women of menstruating age for centuries. It is believed that Lord Ayyappa, the deity of the temple was celibate and thus no women could go inside and worship.

The Kerala High Court barred the entry of women between the age of 10 and 50 in 1991 and 27 years later, the Supreme Court challenged the ban and made the temple accessible to women of all ages. Yet there have been other places of worship where women got justice after trails without any violence or protests

Anjali Phutela, said, ”In our country, menstruation is a taboo and is a major target for stereotypes. It’s not just Sabarimala, temples located near me also follow the same tradition and wouldn’t let women enter unless they follow the rigid rules set by the temple.”

Sanjay Sharma, a priest at a Shiva temple, said, “These traditions have been carried out by us priests for a long time, and we believe that they should be respected. People have attached their sentiments to these traditions and prying with these traditions would definitely hurt the emotions of a lot of people.”

In the past, with temples like Shani Shingnapur and Haji Ali Dargah, women were barred from entering – but with the Supreme Court’s ruling, the ban was lifted.

In Shani Shingnapur, the women entry was banned but was lifted in 2016. Same goes with the Haji Ali Dargah in Mumbai where the ban was lifted the same year. Unlike Sabarimala, people accepted these rulings peacefully and women entry has become a regular norm.

Brida Adige, women’s rights activist, “There is no need to ban anybody for any reason because it is the constitutional right that anyone can pray anywhere. Barring women from entering temples only because of their biology is absolutely unacceptable.”

She also quoted Indira Jaising comment saying that it is an absolute patriarchal mindset and the patriarchy is reiterated with this mindset that they have to safeguard Hinduism. And, this does not serve any purpose because it is not simply Hinduism that we are talking about. We are talking of every place of prayer; be it church or mosque, cannot restrict women and should not restrict women. The violent protest is also because of the political connotation that has got attached to it.