India’s supreme court has ruled against a ban on girls and women of menstruating age from entering a prominent Hindu temple in southern Kerala state، upholding rights to equality of worship، as the Guardian said. The authorities at the Sabarimala temple، which attracts tens of millions of pilgrims every year، have said the ban on women and girls aged from 10 to 50 was essential to the rites related to the temple’s chief deity، Ayyappan، who is considered eternally celibate، and were rooted in a centuries-old tradition. In the supreme court judgment، the country’s chief justice، Dipak Misra، 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.” Stating that society needs to undergo a perceptual shift، Misra said: “Patriarchy in religion cannot be permitted to trump over elements of pure devotion borne out of faith and the freedom to practise and profess one’s religion.” The ruling is the latest in a series of landmark judgments by India’s top court this month، involving some of the most sensitive issues in Indian society. On Thursday، the court struck down a colonial-era law that criminalised adultery، a day after imposing stringent new limits on how information on the database of the world’s largest biometric identity card programme can be used. Earlier this month، it scrapped a law that criminalised homosexuality، sparking celebrations across India and elsewhere in south Asia، where activists hope to push for similar reform. The supreme court has been called into action because of a significant rise in public interest litigation in recent years after heal-dragging by successive Indian governments on decisions relating to social issues. In Thursday’s judgment، Misra said: “The law and the society are bestowed with the Herculean task to act as levellers.” The temple’s authorities said they will appeal before the temple opens to worshippers again on 16 October. … we have a small favour to ask. More people are reading the Guardian than ever but advertising revenues across the media are falling fast. And unlike many news organisations، we haven’t put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as open as we can. So you can see why we need to ask for your help. The Guardian’s independent، investigative journalism takes a lot of time، money and hard work to produce.
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